In the new episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast.” CalMatters’ Manuela Tobias and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon walk through the recall candidates’ housing plans. They are joined by Moira O’Neill, a UC Berkeley researcher, who explains why scrapping CEQA isn’t the silver bullet to California’s housing woes.
On Tuesday, Californians face an important question: Do they want to boot Gov. Gavin Newsom, and if so, who would they like his replacement to be?
To help voters understand the choices through the lens of the state’s housing crisis, CalMatters’ Manuela Tobias and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon review why it’s been so difficult for Newsom to keep his ambitious campaign promises to build more housing and what solutions his top competitors offer instead.
Kevin Paffrath, a YouTuber, real estate broker and the leading Democrat in the polls, said he would reform CEQA and reduce developer fees.
John Cox, a businessman who worked for years as a developer in Indiana, wants housing to be built in rural areas far outside cities, where little is currently developed, and wants to reform CEQA in order to do so.
So what exactly is CEQA, and is it really the boogeyman these candidates say?
To answer that question Manuela and Liam are joined by Moira O’Neill, associate research scientist at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development and senior research fellow at the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment at UC Berkeley.
While she agrees CEQA has been used in bad faith to block housing projects, her research finds that’s not usually the case. And what she finds to be the real culprit — onerous local review — is much harder to tackle politically.
“Take away CEQA, you’re still dealing with a local jurisdiction reserving the right to deny approval of the proposed development,” O’Neill said.
To follow along with the “avocado of the fortnight” segment, check out the anime version of a heated academic debate over zoning reform.
Challengers in the Newsom recall election are making CEQA a villain. But experts say that the landmark environmental law is only one of many tools used to block housing.