PCL INSIDER: News from the Capitol
NEW STUDY REVEALS CALIFORNIA HAS ENOUGH HOUSING TO MEET DEMAND FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES
Last week, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) released a study detailing how California’s four largest metropolitan areas (Sacramento, Bay Area, Southern California and San Diego), which make up 80 percent of the state’s population, are seeing a trend in locational demands for housing. The dream of owning a home out in the suburbs seems to be shifting as young professionals, and those entering the workforce, care more about living in close proximity to areas served by mass transit, with better access to goods, services and their employment. California’s most transformative recent environmental legislation, AB 32 and SB 375 (which, taken together, seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through more sustainable planning), seem to be aligning with the personal preferences of California residents. In fact, according to the ULI study, nearly “9 million households would like the option to live in locations served by public transit, but today only about 1.2 million California households can claim to have it.” This fact alone should make enough of a case to cities, counties, developers and planners that sprawl development has become outdated, and is no longer the desired option as and more and more residents are heading for urban dwellings and high density housing options.
Even as California’s population is projected to grow by 4 million people by 2020 and 12 million by 2035, there is already enough large lot, single family housing within the four major Metropolitan Planning Areas (MPO) that not one more house needs to be built to accommodate the expected population growth and demand for this type of housing for the next 23 years. This in an obvious indicator of the change in desire for housing type; further stressing the point is that demand for housing close to transit stops is so high that if all new homes built until 2035 were placed next to transit stops, we still wouldn’t meet the demand.
Now, as each of the 18 MPOs throughout California drafts its Sustainable Community Strategies (as required by SB 375), we hope they will take into account the growing demand for urban development over sprawl as we seek to get California on track environmentally and economically. As we continue to focus on better regional planning, in 2012 the Planning and Conservation League will also sponsor The Healthy Neighborhoods Act, authored by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, which seeks to reduce the amount of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) at the project level by rewarding infill development and fostering improved project design and travel demand management programs. There will be more to come on this bill as the Legislature reconvenes in January.