While California’s housing crisis has begun to trigger a backlash, with some cities hunkering down behind NIMBY walls, the dire shortage of homes is having big impacts on other states.
In Colorado, an influx of young, upwardly mobile professionals is fueling a boom in apartment building, driving rents higher and triggering an affordable housing crisis. With an unemployment rate in the 2 percent range, Colorado continues to attract talent that California can’t afford to house — at any price.
In a column that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 30, syndicated columnist Joe Matthews wrote that “nearly every Western city – from Seattle to Denver to Boise – is experiencing a minor-league version of the California housing crisis.”
In Utah, he wrote, the number of households being formed is outstripping new housing supply for the first time since the 1970s. That’s happening despite the fact that fewer regulations and more affordable land are making it easier for Utah to build new homes. In cities such as Salt Lake there are moves afoot to allow more density and other places are encouraging production of more moderately priced homes.
There are some bright spots for California and the Central Coast, notably in Santa Paula and San Luis Obispo where major new projects are getting approvals or getting under way. But it is rather shocking to realize that the 1,500 homes being readied for construction at the Limoneira-Lewis Harvest Project will represent almost one-third of the new home construction pipeline for all of Ventura County for the coming years — that’s just 1,500 homes in a county whose population is in excess of 900,000.
Coastal cities can brag that they are protecting the environment by shutting down the supply of housing. But we are also exporting much of our talent and intellectual capital to places elsewhere in the West.
IN MEMORIAM: TONY ROMASANTA
Sometime in the next couple of months, the Hotel Californian will open and a new era on Santa Barbara’s waterfront will begin — with one of its major figures sadly missing.
Literally next door to the $200 million Californian project, a major expansion for the late Tony Romasanta’s Harbor View Inn is well under way.
Years ago, it was the launch of the Harbor View that paved the way for much of the new activity at the corner of State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard.
Romasanta, a sharp-tongued but tremendously affable businessman, passed away in early July after suffering a massive heart attack at age 84.
The New York transplant and UC Santa Barbara graduate was a key figure in the rise of Santa Barbara from the recession of the early 1990s. He was blunt, irreverent and disarming in his honesty. He was also increasingly frustrated by the city’s anti-growth politics and its inability to create economic opportunities for its citizens.
Romasanta navigated his company successfully through the deep real estate recession that devastated the banking industry and many in real estate and was on the cusp of achieving a new milestone for the Harbor View when he passed away suddenly.
Condolences to his family and colleagues. Donations can be made to Santa Barbara DAWG, 5480 Overpass Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93111.