They own the majority in both houses of the state Legislature and will for a lifetime.  They are constantly stacking committee membership with like-minded lawmakers who regularly grant permission to pass onto the floor or another committee the bills of their fellow partisans.  Legislatively, they control the agenda in Sacramento and can virtually do anything they want.

So, why don’t Democrats propose legislation to build more housing, and end the state’s most vexing public policy challenge?

Building more housing is, according to most experts, the way to solve California’s stubborn affordability problems.  Just take the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s recommendation on the situation:

We advise the Legislature to change policies to facilitate significantly more private home and apartment building in California’s coastal urban areas. Though the exact number of new housing units California needs to build is uncertain, the general magnitude is enormous. On top of the 100,000 to 140,000 housing units California is expected to build each year, the state probably would have to build as many as 100,000 additional units annually – almost exclusively in its coastal communities – to seriously mitigate its problems with housing affordability. (This will) require the state to make changes to a broad range of policies that affect housing supply directly or indirectly – including policies that have been fundamental tenets of California government for many years.

Heck, legislators shouldn’t need more convincing than that.

Regrettably, lawmakers in Sacramento can’t propose new housing – they’re virtually powerless to do so.  That’s because their premier constituency won’t allow it.  The state environmental lobby doesn’t want more housing and won’t permit any new law to make it easier to build, which is what it’s going to take.

It’s for a simple reason, really.  California’s environmental groups simply don’t like people.  They, for the most part, are true disciples of biologist Paul Ehrlich and his 1968 doomsday Population Bomb, which among other things urges population-control to avoid the end of mankind due to worldwide starvation.  (Happily, we Earth-dwellers survived the predicted doom and are thriving.)  Ehrlich, a Stanford professor, was urged to write the book by the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club has had its share of population-control controversy.  In the late ‘90’s its Northern California chapter was behind an unsuccessful Bay Area effort to impose strict growth-control measures, which were argued at the time as a surreptitious attempt to enact a version of population control.   In 2003, a bitter dispute arose inside the national organization when a group of would-be directors tried to force out existing directors over a disagreement on immigration policy.  Dissidents wanted limits on how many immigrants to let into the country.

Recently, the Sierra Club of California led a long list of groups to oppose state legislation to make it easier to build housing near transit hubs – a sure-fire way to increase infill, multifamily stock.  The bill died in its policy committee.

Indeed, the Sierra Club has continually led the charge against any zoning or other land-use reform that would make it easier to build housing.  In fact, the group is opposed to any new law that would be growth-inducing – whether in support of new infrastructure, a sensible water policy or more housing.

The Sierra Club hides behind liberal politics – and leftist legislators – to mask what is a pretty cynical attitude toward housing.  They – and their fellow environmentalists – for example, refuse to give an inch when it comes to reforming the ever-present and growth-impeding California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  They assert any change would be “gutting” the 45-year-old law and are steadfastly opposed to reform.  Period.

The result of this kind of political pressure is to force Democrats to scramble to find a housing solution.  Lawmakers in Sacramento have fallen all over themselves over the last two years to create some new housing law.  Little meaningful change was accomplished, though.  Mostly, the effort led to strategies to fund this or that – through bonds, fees and other taxing devices.

The latest plan comes from U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris (D-CA) who wants to give away tax credits through an overly complicated scheme to low-and moderate-income renters.  But, the Harris plan won’t do anything to increase the country’s woeful supply of housing and, instead, will almost certainly lead to higher rents and a big reward to landlords.

They still don’t get it.  Or, someone does but won’t let them get near it.