If there is one paramount planning issue challenging cities these days it is the shortage of affordable housing, so say the academic number crunchers and pundits who note that California population continues to increase.
But you don’t have to tell that to those who live here , and so I comment on my weekly broadcast on 97.5 KBU and on select websites . Finding an apartment to rent or a house to buy has become as frustrating as freeway traffic. And that has gone from bad to worse.
Whether the cities want to confront this issue is another matter, that is do something more than talk about it in bureaucratic backrooms, and bemoan it at idle conferences.
In L.A , there have been a series of pronouncement by Mayor Garcetti, who unfortunately seems tied up in an archaic zoning knot, and hounded by nimbys.
In New York, affordable housing was one of the post election promises of Bill De Blasio, but so far it’s been all talk. What few plans have been put forward by ever ready architects are languishing. The mayors frankly don’t put the needed money with their mouths are.
Then there are the comfortable cities, like my Malibu, with its multitude of real estate agents, and provincial politicians that don’t even talk about it, and seem to be content to let the private market driven by supply and demand reap its profits.
Real estate is the mother lode of Malibu, and those who bought early and those with the means or moneyed parents who have bought more recently. Both seem to be content with the status quo, adhering to the adage that they got theirs, and too bad for everyone else.
And that everyone else includes the local workforce: the city employees, school teachers, first responders, shop clerks, waiters and waitresses, the gardeners and handymen, all those that smile and serve. Most live beyond the 27 miles of scenic beauty that is Malibu.
That is because they simply can’t afford the city’s ever increasing real estate prices. Most have to commute long distances daily to get to work, and yes, they are among the vehicles that exacerbating traffic on the PCH.
And it’s getting worse, what little affordable housing there is, increasingly is being taken off the market for short term rentals, or sold as vacation or weekend homes to deep pocket buyers. And not just in Malibu, but in nearby communities.
To find housing, our workforce is moving further and further away, which means longer commutes. And it also discourages them to send their kids to Malibu schools. So there goes what little diversity the city has, economically, racially, and culturally, and we are poorer for it.
Yes, this is another entreaty for needed housing to be somehow appropriately designed and developed, and in Malibu located in the civic center.
Label it as you will, workforce or affordable, and add some senior and assisted housing to the mix, and it will unquestionably transform the civic center from its present sad state as a fractured commercial conceit catering to tourists, into a real, more livable and equitable coastal village. It’s the right thing to do.