The CA Affordable Housing Crisis: What We Can’t Afford is the Big Lie

ALPERN AT LARGE--There is an undeniable affordable housing crisis in the state of California, and it is NOT merely supply and demand forces that have caused it. 

And once we, as a state, get over that "big lie" we'll have a hope of fixing that problem. It's those promulgating that "big lie" who proclaim themselves the advocates for affordable housing who need to be exposed. 

And in case you were wondering, both Democrats and Republicans are to blame. Certainly, there IS a supply/demand force for the rise of the cost of living, but most of this problem has been artificial, contrived, and could have been avoided. 

Whether it's those proclaiming themselves "affordable housing advocates" or those proclaiming themselves "job creators" for developers and contractors, they have both created the affordable housing crisis and diverted the public's attention from the fact that THEY have CAUSED the crisis. 

The Far Left and the Rich Elite (of all political bents), and their acolytes, have done a great job promoting themselves as "woke", "enlightened", and "caring" but it's clear they don't give a damn about the average Californian--particularly the average middle-class Californian. 

They can be divided into Fools, Tools, and Ghouls. 

The Fools are those who think that promoting "affordable housing" will actually get them that housing when, in fact, it is neither legal nor realistic that they will get an affordable place to live. 

The Tools are kind but "useful idiots" who believe that the latest excuse of the day, or the latest apologist approach to justify unsustainable, environmentally-nightmarish overdevelopment, will get the job done after decades of failure.  Trust me--I've played the role of "useful idiot", so I know how this can happen. 

And the Ghouls know damn well that this all won't work out and consume a dead and decaying system that has turned the Golden State into a Moldy State, forcing many to enjoy the sunshine while living in horrific traffic and being horribly house-poor, or they have to just leave the state altogether. 

(And in case you were wondering, this isn't just a California problem--California is just the shining, rotting example of what NOT to be, or what others choose to emulate in other states because...hey, emulating California is the thing to always do, right?) 

--We simply cannot afford a housing environment where foreign investors can gobble up homes as either tax or other financial shelters, leave native-born Californians or other Americans unable to compete, and leave large tracts of empty homes and condos. 

--We simply cannot afford having large, empty "transit-oriented development" or "mixed-use development" projects that are built but are either unaffordable and/or are undesired by individuals who should be encouraged to live there because they are truly affordable. 

--We simply cannot afford the prevention of water use for showering and cleaning our clothes (you know, the basics of civilized living) while new dams and water retention/renewal are neither funded nor built in a sufficient manner to allow for new housing and commercial/industrial use. 

--We simply cannot afford allowing our occasional El Nino or other rain run-off to be wasted into the Pacific Ocean when it could be used to fill reservoirs to allow us to live and thrive during the endemic drought cycles that have been part of the California ecosystem for millennia (the water pipelines and reservoirs allowed California to be habitable to begin with).  

--We simply cannot afford to allow the oil and natural gas bubbling up from the earth to be used to benefit a few, and not the average Californian. 

--We simply cannot afford to allow "affordable housing" to be misused and confused by those unable to figure out what that term even means. 

--We simply cannot afford the failure to distinguish REAL and BENEFICIAL "affordable housing" (Senior Affordable Housing, Student Affordable Housing, and Workforce Affordable Housing) from folks who just want to live near the ocean for cheap, thereby thwarting the laws of economics just because they're personally or politically connected to the California elites. 

--We simply cannot afford unsustainably high utility, education, and other costs of living, and expect the middle class (ALWAYS able to pay for a public and private sector in ways that a few California billionaires never can) to survive and thrive. 

--We simply cannot afford the need to address traffic and parking crises (YES, they are CRISES) without confronting the fact that individuals and families of all ages, including millennials, are buying cars more than ever, and that the ability to access and conveniently utilize our roads and mass transit assets has been hampered by zealots who either live in their own little world, or who just don't get affected by the messes they have created.

--We simply cannot afford to create affordable housing without understanding that it is to be created so that seniors, students, and workforce-commuters can access virtually all of their necessary destinations without a car...instead of willy-nilly overdevelopment and calling it "affordable". 

--We simply cannot afford the failure to distinguish those who have ties to their families and jobs, and who are forced to virtually live in the streets, from those who cannot and should not live here just because "they want to" but have no desire to sustain themselves and be part of the economy. 

--And we certainly, absolutely, cannot afford the continuation of "affordable housing" projects that leads to a less-affordable economy, a less-healthy environment, and a painfully-destroyed quality of life.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.