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By Kim Murphy
Murphy and Murphy Southern California Realty 

Real Estate Round-Up: Housing availability and affordability and the NIMBY effect

 

Last updated 11/13/2018 at 7:11am



Recapping from last week, California has a deficit of 3 million homes. In order to meet California’s population growth, 180,000 homes need to be built per year. The shortage of homes is affecting the middle class and is appropriately named the “missing middle.”

Legislative guidelines have created mounds of permitting requirements and fees and has exasperated the processing time of building a housing project to 15 years. But there is an equally paralyzing movement standing in the way of housing availability, and it is the “NIMBY” or the “not in my backyard” movement.

We all have a little of this reaction in us. We don’t want our neighbor to paint their home purple or to park work vehicles in their front yard. But what is happening currently is the NIMBY movement doesn’t want anything, anywhere near them, not here, not now and not ever.

Many times, NIMBY’s hide behind the California Environmental Quality Act, by claiming that the development has not had a thorough traffic impact study or that there is inadequate infrastructure to support the project. Or they will challenge a finding from one of those reports.

Other times it starts out as a grassroots movement to oppose the project based on those same concerns, focused on a fear of increased traffic, safety concerns or lack of infrastructure to support the new development. At the center of the movement is a desire for things to stay exactly the way they are. It becomes “us” against “them,” and “we” were here first, so “you” stay out.

There is a group referred to as ECO Advocates that believes renting is the future and California residents should give up the dream of home ownership. In a state that is approaching 50 percent renters, this message can be the salve to make the housing challenges palatable.

In other words, if renting is the answer and you are a renter, you should not feel like you’ve been left out but rather that this is the future for everyone. Much like Europe, where homeownership is not a consideration for anyone other than the very wealthy.

The idea would be a complete about face for most people. We grew up believing in the American dream and owning a home is part of that dream.

The NIMBY challenge is much harder to fix than the legislative issues. How do we change the hearts and minds of people? How do we help people understand that building homes has an overwhelming benefit to the community by providing homes for the people that have key jobs in that community?

Teachers, firefighters, retail business owners, contractors, etc. want and need to live where they work. If they live where they work, their children will attend the schools; they will support the community and the nonprofits in the community. It builds a sense of belonging, compassion and commitment.

I am struck by the opposing views on housing availability. The louder group yells for no new housing. The hopeful group struggles to find a home they can afford that will make their commute shorter. Until everyone gets on the same page, we will have a housing availability problem and a housing affordability problem.

California will become a majority renter state, and our schools and businesses will struggle. People will not be vested in their towns, their schools or their businesses. We will buy everything online and eliminate what once made people strong – the sense of community. And bringing it home – you should care, because the value of the real estate you own is directly related to the health of the community in which the home is located.

The choice is yours. Stand still, don’t grow, don’t change and imagine that future. Or, embrace the change, be involved in the change and watch the community thrive.

Kim Murphy can be reached at kim@murphy-realty.com or (760) 415-9292 or at 130 N. Main Ave. in Fallbrook. Her broker license is #01229921, and she is on the board of directors for the California Association of Realtors.

 

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