Conference Calls for More Houses, Less Red Tape

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By Inland Empire Business Daily on June 18, 2016

 

San Bernardino County needs to build more single-family homes that people can afford to buy, and the sooner that happens the better.

That was the overwhelming consensus at a housing policy conference held Friday at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario.

The event, which attracted about 250 people, was sponsored by the Baldy View Chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, which covers San Bernardino County.

It featured speaker after speaker who decried the amount of regulations homebuilders have dealt with, blaming the sheer volume of red tape that flows out of Sacramento for much of the state’s housing problems.

Several speakers called for a reform of the California Environmental Quality Act, a particularly unpopular piece of legislation among the state’s housing industry, which believes it’s excessive and an obstacle to building homes.

But the half-day conference was ultimately about building more houses, and some data provided by the BIA showed why meeting that goal is so important.

By the end of this year, San Bernardino County will be 31,109 short of the number of residential units it will need to keep up with demand. That number is expected to reach 65,000 by 2019.

Countywide, only 5,700 residential units are expected be built this year, enough to pump approximately $670 million into the local economy. By comparison, if only two-thirds of this year’s projected shortage were built, it would pump $2.15 billion into the local economy.

“The big question is how do we make housing more affordable?,” said Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, R-Alta Loma, who spoke on a panel that addressed state housing policies. “We can try to subsidize our way out of it, but all you will do then is spend a lot of money and you won’t solve the problem.”

Housing in the Inland Empire is now priced well beyond the region’s median income, keynote speaker Wendell Cox said.

Cutting regulation would be the best first step toward making buying a house more affordable, not just in the Inland Empire but in all of California, according to Cox, who runs a consulting firm that deals with land use and transportation issues.

“The problem is the regulatory climate that settled in California about 20 years ago,” Cox said. “It’s not the cost of construction, and it’s only going get worse if something isn’t done.”


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