To confront California’s housing crisis also means confronting its water crisis, because fewer homes get built when water supplies tighten.
Yet, California’s Legislature has studiously avoided mention of this state’s megadrought as it approves housing legislation to meet a state goal of 3.5 million more housing units (conservatively, 9 million more people) by 2030. And there has been no debate of whether to prioritize building affordable housing over market-rate units as the pool of available water for construction shrinks.
The unplanned and unregulated dense housing contemplated by Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10 (and particularly SB 9, which does not require development be near transit-oriented development) raises its own equity issues.
Water will likely be purchased from irrigation districts, at the expense of farm jobs and the local economies of already struggling rural agricultural communities.
State legislators need to rethink housing legislation in light of the worsening megadrought.
Editor’s note: Rich Campbell’s thoughts first appeared at Calmatters.org and were in regard to an earlier piece on the website headlined, “Will Legislature confront housing crisis.” Campbell, a former Pacifica Planning Commissioner, was writing in his personal capacity and not as an EPA representative; his views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the EPA, the federal government or the Golden Gate University School of Law, which he serves as an adjunct professor.