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Confronting the Housing Crises

Crises? Yes. Californians face multiple distinct but interrelated housing crises because of past industry and government practices—housing supply, housing costs, the jobs-housing balance, and housing equity are different crises. However, the most widespread are the supply crisis and the cost crisis.

California today does not have enough housing for its population by either numbers or types, and new construction lags behind demand year after year. PlaceWorks is deeply engaged with housing issues at the state, regional, and local levels. To increase overall housing production, we work with developers and builders to plan and design new infill projects of all types and price points. We also assisted the Department of Housing and Community Development and local jurisdictions with Senate Bill 2 and the Local Early Action Program/Regional Early Action Program. In this role, we developed databases and educational materials to help local governments apply new state housing laws.

Besides demand, housing costs are driven by construction costs, governmental costs, and the sparseness of affordable housing. To ameliorate housing costs (and increase affordable housing production), PlaceWorks collaborates with communities and developers to create plans and standards that allow financially feasible development and reflect community values. One critical task is helping jurisdictions revamp their process to facilitate real streamlining in entitlement and environmental review. To ensure consistency with Senate Bills 35 and 330, we craft objective design standards to ensure high-quality residential design for new housing projects, even those subject to only ministerial approval.

To facilitate affordable housing, PlaceWorks helps communities develop effective housing elements, inclusionary housing requirements, and standards for accessory dwelling units.

We also help regions throughout the State, including recent work with Butte, Solano, and Fresno Counties, create their Regional Housing Allocation Plans, and we are involved in developing regional housing funding strategies.

In all our work, we are sensitive to including local residents in planning and minimizing potential gentrification and other unintended consequences.