California Needs More Housing—But Where?

The state’s housing shortage is complicated by the growing number of places threatened by wildfires.

Read Time: 1 minute

October 13, 2022, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Fire burning on hillside behind house in Azusa, California

Fire burns behind a house in Azusa, California, just east of Los Angeles. | Ringo Chiu / Fire in Azusa, California

California must carefully balance its dire need for more housing with the risks posed by increasingly destructive wildfires which should discourage communities from building in fire-prone areas, writes Dan Walters for CalMatters.

“The friction between those two imperatives is played out in the political arena, where officialdom makes land use policy.” After Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that “would have required local governments to make fire safety a major factor in approving housing developments in fire-prone areas by compelling developers to include protective features,” claiming it would have allowed cities to avoid meeting their housing mandates, state Attorney General Rob Bonta has taken a series of steps to prevent further development in the wildland-urban interface.

In a set of guidelines released this week, Bonta writes that it is “imperative that local jurisdictions making decisions to approve new developments carefully consider wildfire impacts as part of the environmental review process, plan where best to place new development, and mitigate wildfire impacts to the extent feasible.”

To Walters, “The issue demands something more definitive than a document from the attorney general. Newsom and the Legislature should, as they ramp up pressure for more housing construction, also delineate where it should — and should not — occur.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 in CALmatters

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