Building more homes makes housing affordable; even California politicians agree

After years of rent control/stabilization and pouring billions into affordable housing, California lawmakers are finally realizing that the only way to make housing affordable is to build more homes.

On Sept. 16, Gov. Newsom signed into law two bills that essentially reduce the regulatory burden associated with new construction.

The first, called Senate Bill 9, would essentially eliminate single-family zoning by allowing duplexes in most neighborhoods across the state. The other, Senate Bill 10, would reduce environmental rules on multifamily housing and make it easier for cities to add high-density development.

Faced with a deepening housing affordability crisis, Mr. Newsom has poured billions of dollars from the state’s budget surplus and federal stimulus packages into investments to ease problems with housing and homelessness. But California remains one of the hardest places in the country to build, resulting in a longstanding housing shortage that is the root of its cost problems.

Minnesota is, in a lot of ways, like California when it comes to housing. Just last weekend the Star Tribune reported that the Twin Cities are currently facing the worst housing shortage in the nation. And the reason for that is excessive regulation. Land use regulations, zoning rules, and energy-saving environmental rules not only discourage housing construction, but delay development and add on tens of thousands to the cost of housing.

Minnesota lawmakers need to realize now what has taken California decades to accept: building more homes, and not controlling rent or increasing spending on affordable housing, will address the affordable housing crisis.

If there was ever an idea from California that Minnesota should adopt, loosening regulations on construction would be the one.