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City Cannot Ignore Housing Problem

First published in the Sept. 22 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

California has a housing problem.
The short supply of buildable land and high cost of construction have made the state’s coastal regions unusually expensive. According to the California Association of Realtors, less than 20% of California households have sufficient income to afford a median priced California home (valued at about $800,000). Far fewer can afford to purchase a house in La Cañada.  
At this week’s City Council meeting, many applauded when a speaker compared low-income housing to having prisons in our town and compared low-income people to criminals. I am saddened to think that fellow residents hold such low opinions of the essential workers we depend on — the people delivering our packages each day, checking out our groceries or cleaning our houses. I think of the friendly crossing guard who waves every morning. Yes, we will rely on you, but no, we don’t want you living in our city because we imagine you will bring crime.  
The California housing market is regulated in ways that work against free market solutions to improving housing affordability. Some of these regulations are created at the state level, others locally. An example is zoning regulations that preclude increased housing density, as has been the case in La Cañada. The state legislature identified local zoning as a contributor to the state’s housing problem. La Cañada, along with other cities, is now required to help address the need.  
While the state’s new mandates may be onerous, they are a reaction to the problem municipalities helped created. The mandate is not something the city cannot ignore — legally or ethically.  

Randolph Hall
La Cañada Flintridge

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