At U.S. Homeless Ground Zero, NIMBY-Busting Legislation May Finally Toughen

California State Capitol, Sacramento, California photo by PROKen Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
California State Legislature, Sacramento, California.

If a homelessness crisis and an affordable housing crisis is likened to a bomb falling on an American state, then California is ground zero of a nuclear explosion.

‘California—no fixed address’ is home to 25% of the people in the nation who are homeless, and 42% of people who are chronically homeless. The actual numbers are growing by leaps and bounds. But affordable housing expands at a snail’s pace, caught up in thickets of regulations, interventions, hearings and any other kind of roadblock that can be thrown up to delay or prevent new housing projects.

While much of staunchly democratic California is sympathetic in a general kind of way to the plight of the homeless, this affluent state is by and large also the NIMBY capital of America. In the face of affordable housing needs, often within some of the most expensive housing markets in the country, local governments have been thoroughly tied up by Not-In-My-Back-Yard grassroot activists who enthusiastically expand that back yard to their city block, to their multi-block neighbourhood, to their district, city and beyond.

But. . . not for much longer, perhaps. The state Legislature is preparing a bill that would allow zoning regulations such as height restrictions to be automatically overridden by guarantees that housing developments will include a suitable percentage of affordable housing.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle:  Editorial: California can’t afford neighborhood opposition to homeless housing

And for similar legislation to that mentioned in the article, try: Connecticut Sinks the Affordable Housing Hook Into Slippery Communities