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Storper on the ‘Deeply Flawed’ Senate Bill 50

Michael Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development in urban planning, spoke to Politifact for an article on claims supporting and opposing controversial Senate Bill 50. The bill would require cities and counties to allow higher-density housing near job and transit centers. Proponents say it would ease the state’s affordable housing crisis; opponents say it would spur gentrification and overcrowd suburban neighborhoods. Storper said SB 50 is based on a “deeply flawed” analysis of what it would take to solve the state’s housing crisis. He said there is some truth to claims that SB 50 would create more luxury housing units. Existing zoning laws in California already permit millions of potential new housing units, but developers choose to build where they know they can make a profit, he said. Under SB 50, he said, developers would be inclined to target wealthy areas and “produce housing at price points that are only accessible to higher-income people.”


 

Lens on Surprising Decline in Evictions

Michael Lens, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, spoke to CalMatters for a story about a California housing crisis mystery: There has been a major run-up in rents, and delinquent payments are the most common reason a landlord sues to remove tenants from their property. Yet the state has seen an unexpected decline in eviction filings. The article cited Lens’ research into what made one Southern California neighborhood more likely than another to see landlords initiate formal evictions, with surprising findings on the impact of gentrification. “The conventional wisdom is that landlords will be more aggressive in trying to push people out … when they think they can get somebody who will pay more,” Lens said. “But that’s not what we find, on the court side of things.” Instead the factors that had a strong correlation with eviction filings were whether a neighborhood was very poor or was largely African American, Lens found.

Land Is Finite, but Housing Is Not, Manville Says

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, spoke to Architectural Digest about Apple’s announcement that it would invest $2.5 billion to address California’s housing crisis. The plan includes converting a 40-acre plot of land the company owns in San Jose into space for affordable housing. Manville said much of San Jose is reserved for detached single-family homes, “making for very inefficient use of valuable land.” Residents may be hesitant to change zoning rules because they like how their neighborhood looks or the fact that their house has tripled in value, Manville said. But he urged, “We must build up, so that the same plot of land of one home can accommodate many families. You know, the elevator also exists in Silicon Valley.” The alternative, he said, is a place that has the economy of a megacity and built environment of a suburb, “and that’s simply not sustainable.” Manville concluded, “Land is finite, but housing is not.”