While the city’s problems have long been red meat for Republicans, they’re also inspiring Democrats across the country to spend political capital on tackling housing affordability issues in their own states.

Officials in Washington state and Vermont looked at the housing crisis in San Francisco this year and took action to prevent the same thing happening in their states: They effectively banned single-family zoning.

Those new laws are part of a wave of municipal and state efforts to guard against the worst effects of the crunch already on display in California’s fourth-largest city as housing costs ballooned nationwide since the pandemic.

The solutions to skyrocketing housing costs all take time to have an effect. But officials are considering everything from mandating that cities zone for greater residential density to allowing duplexes to be built nearly anywhere statewide.

They know that if they don’t do something, they could end up like San Francisco and California in general, with rents and home prices that are unaffordable for many residents and intractable waves of homelessness — fueled by drug use and mental health issues in addition to lack of housing — that place a crushing burden on city services and steer residents and businesses away from downtown.

“Every state in the country other than California is saying, ‘I don’t want to become California,’ and every other city is like, ‘I don’t want to become San Francisco,’” said Jenny Schuetz, a senior fellow on urban economics and housing policy at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

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