As is my habit, I participated recently in a monthly conference call with the policy committee of one of my former housing clients. It was a real eye opener.

Committee members were informed that number of bills their lobbyists would be tracking this year nears about 100 – a massive new record. All because the state Legislature, panicked over the depth of California’s housing crisis, feels like it must do something to solve the problem. Unlucky for us, all lawmakers can do is legislate – exactly what the situation doesn’t need.

Fact is, study after study show it’s state (and local) regulations that are killing housing – especially those that flow from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Incidentally, only two of this year’s bills being tracked by the housing lobbyists deal with CEQA (one of them is narrow and targeted to downtown development). That’s right, only one bill – of the nearly 3,000 introduced in California’s state Legislature this year – amends CEQA in a meaningful way.

Instead, the 100 or so “housing” bills tie the hands of builders and landlords and simply ask housing to do too much – from setting new standards for water conservation to requiring landlords to keep batteries on hand for automatic garage-door openers. With a couple of exceptions, the proposed legislation does nothing to make it easier to build the housing California needs every year.

The following are examples of some of the “housing crisis” handiwork for 2018 of state legislators:



The 120 men and women that make up the California Legislature simply can’t help themselves: in a crisis they feel like they need to do more.   But, as previously indicated, that just means more laws and, as is the case with most laws, we need less, not more to get the job done.

Do we really need a new bill to adopt tougher water-conservation standards? No, we already have countless laws to do that. Do we need new seismic-safety standards for new buildings? No, we already have several, authorized in state law. Do we really need new fair housing legislation? No, we already have the most robust in the land. Do homebuilders need more liability when building houses? God no, they already have plenty.

Do we need more private housing built in California without the pet desires of so many lawmakers? Of course, we do. Where’s that bill?