All of our local issues stem our affordable housing problem. Public safety, public health, education, transportation, and even environment, core issue that we as Democrats care about, each have a substantial stake in the affordable housing crisis.
That’s the bad news, and unfortunately it gets worse. Nearly 98% of cities and counties in California have a “housing deficit,” meaning they are not approving the housing needed to keep pace with population growth.
That’s a lot.
None of the two percent of areas that are keeping pace in both market rate and affordable housing are in Contra Costa County. The affluent areas of our county, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Danville, Orinda, met the market rate requirements but failed to provide sufficient affordable housing.
We’ve all seen the home prices skyrocket throughout Contra Costa County so this shouldn’t be surprising. However, State Senator Scott Weiner’s streamlined housing construction bill, Senate Bill 35, was approved in September 2017 and is responsible for this deficit data coming to light.
New affordable housing in Contra Costa is the answer, but the real heavy lifting is in getting it done in the areas that need it most. The forces against it are strong and I understand those too. I picked my neighborhood because it’s a nice, semi-rural area with single-family homes. I want to be able to walk to denser communities with shops and cafes, but I don’t want to live next door to them.
The idea that peoples’ homes will be razed to put up apartment buildings is of course completely wrong. But those big vacant lots and perhaps some empty fields too will be needed to help more people live in our community.
For my own kids, whose neighbors on average look a bit too much like them, I welcome it.