EDITORIAL: California liberals continue to exacerbate state’s housing crisis

A great many Nevada Democrats — who currently control the Legislature — appear eager to replicate the high-tax, onerous regulatory climate of our neighbor to the west. That’s why it’s vital to keep tabs on what’s going on in Sacramento. What happens in California doesn’t stay in California. It tends to migrate to Nevada — particularly when progressives dominate the debate in Carson City.

Take California’s worsening housing crisis. The Los Angeles Times reported in March that rents and housing prices are out of reach for at least 30 percent of residents in every one of the state’s metropolitan statistical areas — the number soars to 60 percent in some regions. A 2015 survey estimated that California has nearly 116,000 homeless residents — more than one-fifth of the national total.

Yet the state’s leftist political class remains hostile to the obvious solution: clearing away the red tape that makes it virtually impossible for developers to meet demand.

Last week, a committee in the California Senate turned away a proposal that would have limited the authority of local jurisdictions to impose zoning restrictions that discourage housing production. The measure would have imposed a check on the vocal NIMBY crowd and local pols.

The bill’s failure reveals that, while the state’s Democrats profess to be concerned about soaring housing costs, they continue to exacerbate the problem by elevating ideology over actual solutions.

“Many parts of California, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, have some of the most severe zoning restrictions in the nation,” writes Ilya Somin of Reason, “thereby cutting off millions of people from the opportunity to live in areas with greater job opportunities.”

Nor is this an isolated example of the state’s liberal power base aggravating the issue by imposing artificial restrictions on the marketplace. In March, the Los Angeles City Council voted to oppose a measure that wold loosen restrictions on high-density residential development.

Somewhere along the way, “California decided that adding enough new housing is a bad thing,” state Sen. Scott Wiener, who proposed the change, told the Times.

Never mind that this destructive attitude falls hardest on the poor and middle class. California is Exhibit A for the consequences of imposing a hyper-regulatory apparatus on a sought-after commodity. Such meddling is a sure recipe for a shortage.

“Housing is a statewide issue,” Sen. Wiener told the Times, “and the approach of pure local control has driven us into the ditch.”

Nevada remains relatively free and developer friendly when compared with California. But if Nevada is to avoid “the ditch,” our politicians should view California’s tax and regulatory policies as a danger to avoid rather than as a model to emulate.

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