California Blues | Urban Living
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California Blues

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I think it's the law that as a native New Yorker, I must subscribe to The New York Times. That's okay, as reading it is part of my Sunday ritual and I enjoy it immensely—from the political commentaries/editorials and in-depth series to the museum announcements and Broadway reviews. There's always something to surprise me, and a few Sundays ago I had to stop and read a full-page ad a few times.

It was an open letter to California's Gov. Gavin Newsom from Cary Brazeman, a principal of a national marketing agency specializing in real estate, a former commercial real estate agent and founder of L.A. Neighbors United, a community group that advocates on behalf of civilians.

There are two bills—California Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10—that Brazeman contends will deregulate the single-family housing market in the state, which would incentivize developers to tear down homes in communities of color where the cost of land is lower and replace those homes with housing that only rich people could afford. Brazeman argues that lower- and middle-income owners and tenants might be forced into being permanent renters. The proposed rules, he contends, will bring a form of the Hunger Games where humans lose and Wall Street wins.

Many areas of California have loosened zoning rules to allow for more planned developments, small-lot subdivisions and ADU's (accessory dwelling units, like tiny homes and mother-in-law apartments) to facilitate more density of residences in those areas. Brazeman argues in the ad that the state has taken steps to boost personal income in California by reducing the cost of health care. But he believes that the two Senate bills would allow four to six individual housing units or a 10-unit apartment building on what was formerly a single-family lot, with no recourse for the neighbors next door. That would hurt the affordable housing crisis, he argues, by destabilizing neighborhoods and home values.

Why would we in Utah give a hoot about this guy and his opinions? The housing crisis is as real in Utah as it is in California. Local communities and their city councils, planning commissions and zoning enforcers are all looking at these kinds of changes to density in our state and local building rules and regulations. Portland's City Council voted recently to throw out single-family zoning rules because frankly, they too do not have enough housing. Home prices and rents are rising like crazy. The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 1, 2021 reported that the asking rate for houses rose nearly 13% year-to-date through July.

Bottom line? Pay attention to your city councils and our Legislature in January and listen to how our leaders plan on dealing with the facts and future of our housing crisis in Utah. The Salt Lake Board of Realtors recently found that 10% of hits to its website were from Californians looking to move to Utah. Leaders should know the housing crisis is just as real in our great state.