Timothy Coyle’s October 6th piece here on Fox and Hounds about rent control wasn’t “news” to our members at the California Apartment Association (CAA). We are acutely aware of limited housing stock in California, or “California’s other drought.” The lack of affordable housing in cities across California threatens our economic recovery, as well as the California dream of today and tomorrow. We are the world’s 6th largest economy, but our housing growth has not kept up.

Tenants are demanding action to deal with lack of inventory and rising prices. Teachers, firefighters, peace officers and others are being priced out of the communities where they serve – negatively affecting our cities for years to come. Builders, labor unions and environmentalists are clamoring for action. Tech CEOs struggle to recruit and keep talent. Some local city councils, desperate to do something, are considering rent control measures which will, in the end, only exacerbate the situation. While Governor Brown recently signed several bills that will help with the housing crisis, so far comprehensive solutions have evaded us all.

But, as Sonja Trauss, the founder of the Bay Area Renter’s Federation, recently said, “…We’re talking about going to Mars! We can build as much as we want in California. We just have to decide what is our priority.”

We whole-heartedly agree. CAA believes that finding affordable housing solutions should be front and center for our local, state and national policymakers in 2017.

To that end, on September 29, CAA sponsored our first annual California Housing Forum in downtown Sacramento. The Forum opened with a presentation by the Legislative Analyst Office outlining the high costs, causes and consequences of the current crisis. Three panels followed. Panelists represented stakeholders including Asm. David Chiu, the head of the Bay Area Renters Federation, the chief economist of Trulia, the director of the CA Dept. of Housing and Community Development, the president of the CA Building Trades Council, advocates for affordable housing, environmentalists, and more. Our last panel examined what real solutions might look like and how we might begin to work together in 2017.

Someone once said nothing really worth doing is ever easy. At CAA we know that there are real differences in approach to solving this crisis. We strongly support building new inventory and making decisions that allow for new construction, to house the 38 million Californians who need places to live, work and raise their families. But we know that real solutions will require more than wishful thinking. We understand the power of the local opposition. We know the complexity of CEQA regulations. We’ve heard the concerns of environmentalists and the building trades. But we remain optimistic, and eternally-bullish on California’s ability to solve complex and thorny problems.

We will release a report in the coming weeks, to share key findings from the California Housing Forum.

California has always led the nation with new ideas and new solutions for the issues of the day.   Working together, we can help end the housing drought. We are ready to begin. Let’s get going.


Thomas K. Bannon is CEO of the California Apartment Association. Prior to assuming his present role, Tom was Legislative Advocate for the California Building Association, Director of Political Affairs for the California Association of REALTORS and Government Affairs Director for the Sacramento Association of REALTORS. Tom currently sits on the Board of the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC). He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from California State University, Chico.

About the California Apartment Association
The California Apartment Association is the nation’s largest statewide trade group representing owners, investors, developers, managers and suppliers of apartment communities. Our staff — based in Sacramento and with strategic hubs throughout California — includes experts in rental housing law, legal analysts, state and local lobbyists, member-service representatives and media-outreach specialists. For more than 70 years, CAA has served apartment owners and managers through tireless work in public affairs, education and customer service. We represent the ethical members of the rental housing industry in all aspects of government affairs within the state of California, and we provide information, products and services which contribute to the success of their businesses.