The New York Times followed up with a “Times Insider” column on June 12th. Reporter Sarah Bahr writes about her interview with journalist Connor Dougherty, author of the “Not in Her Backyard” profile of Catalysts’ founder Susan Kirsch.
Susan Kirsch is a 78-year-old retired teacher who lives in a small cottage home in Mill Valley, Calif., on a quiet suburban street that looks toward a grassy knoll. The cause that takes up most of her time, however, is fighting new development and campaigning for the right of suburban cities to have near total control over what gets built in them.
In some parts of California, there is definitely a housing crunch: small supplies of homes for sale, prices that escalate even when population has apparently stabilized and high prices that exclude most Californians as buyers.
But a massive, multi-million-unit shortage? Maybe not. At least, so suggests a scathing springtime report from the non-partisan acting state auditor.
In the March report, auditors said “HCD does not ensure that its needs assessments are accurate and adequately supported.” That’s a big deal.
In other words, the housing department’s top-down mandates for the next eight-year housing element cycle are unreliable, likely invalid and should therefore be unenforceable. The foundation of the RHNA methodology is as unstable as building housing on sand.
A recent audit of the state’s new housing quotas raises serious questions about the accuracy of the equation state bureaucrats have used to dictate how many units counties and cities have to approve for construction.
The audit doesn’t question California’s need for housing. But it does raise questions regarding flaws found in the number of units mandated by the state quotas.
As director of the Catalysts for Local Control group, I think it’s time to push back against housing element craziness. We’re being force-fed housing solutions that don’t deliver on the promise of housing that is affordable.