Are NIMBYs to Blame for California's Housing Woes?

According to economist Christopher Thornberg, sky-high housing prices in California indicate a state suffering from an acute housing shortage. In an op-ed for the LA Times, he argues that local interest groups and "populist politicians" are to blame.
July 17, 2013, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Amazingly, the same people and politicians leading the charge against developers trying to build badly needed homes in the Los Angeles region are also the ones who complain that the highways are too crowded, who rail that their children cannot afford a home in their neighborhood and wonder why some businesses choose to leave for other destinations," writes Thornberg. "These local interests have helped create a housing shortage over the last two decades through pressure tactics that push most growth in the housing stock to the suburban periphery, retail development into a few small dense clusters and drive land prices in the center of cities to levels that are out of reach for most of the population."

He uses two controversial projects in Los Angeles - Casden West L.A. and Il Villaggio Toscano - as examples of the challenges encountered by developers that are causing a "state housing shortage." 

"Want cheaper housing? Highways that aren't packed with commuters making 30-mile treks? Cleaner air, a more profitable rail system, more businesses moving in and the ability to walk to shopping?" Thornberg asks. "The answer is densification — allowing developers to build these type of developments to the fullest extent possible. Do you want to see a system that doesn't seem to rely on insider influence and political contributions? The answer is simplification — making the process quicker, fairer and transparent."

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Published on Friday, July 12, 2013 in Los Angeles Times
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