The Housing Policy in California Is Holding Back Its Climate Policy

Housing Policy

The high cost of housing in the state of California is in many ways a disadvantage to the residents. It is fuelling massive homelessness, hurting California’s economy and increasing economic inequality among the residents. The high costs required to own a home in the state is undermining the state’s reputation as a global leader in environmental conservation by emission reduction. The connection is well illustrated by Lila Cabrera who moved to Palmdale last year. Palmdale is a city with a population of 160,000 in Antelope valley’s high-desert region north of Los Angeles. She says that she was financially stretched every month and couldn’t see the situation turn around. However, she says that her family can now enjoy more space for less with a mortgage payment of $1,370. It has forced her to travel 51 miles every day to and from work which takes her an average of two hours on the road daily.

The state’s goals to reduce carbon emissions are slowing down as residents move far away from their employment in search of affordable housing. According to a report by a San Francisco based firm, carbon emissions dropped in less than a half in 2015 as compared to 2014. A drop in cash prices and increased cost of housing forced a resident to drive for longer distances from home to work. More and more people are taking mortgages far away from town in order to afford a mortgage. More traveling has led to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions by 3.1%. Over 635,000 workers in California are forced to drive for more than 90 minutes to work in 2015. The growth is a jump by 40% from what was recorded in 2010.

According to a study carried out by the governor’s office, Annual housing demand stands at 180,000, but less than 100,000 are built every year. One of the main reasons that lead to this deficiency is lack of accountability. The state’s regional agencies are tasked to come up with a sustainable community planning strategies every year including the reduction of sprawl. However, there are no mechanisms to punish the communities when they fail to meet their goals. Fiscalization of land use is another disincentive for home building contractors.

California’s state legislature made the housing crisis the focus of this year’s legislation. There are over 15 bills related to the housing crisis that have been passed in 2017 alone. One of the bills, in particular, seeks to hasten affordable housing’s approval process and expedite construction.