California's housing crisis has no single cause, and according to presenters at a housing conference in Santa Rosa today, it will take a myriad of strategies to restore affordability.
Organized by Generation Housing, a nonprofit housing advocacy group, the conference was centered around the organization's annual report showing housing affordability crushing individuals financially, and squeezing the region's vitality.
Among key findings: a growing exodus of young adults from the region, which the report links to housing costs, is having knock-on affects. Sharp declines in the number of school-age children causing school closures, which in turn, eliminates solid, pension-providing jobs.
The group projects the trend will continue and accelerate. Traffic will also worsen as local workers seek housing in Solano County or further afield.
Help that is available, is often inaccessible. Many programs come with maximum income limits out of step with how local wages relate to the cost of living.
Jen Klose with Generation Housing said many issues can be eased if housing were less costly.
"Solving your housing crisis can mean healthier people, happier people, better schools, higher paying jobs, attracting business to our area, less smog."
The group advocates for housing at all income levels and has called on jurisdictions to roll back or eliminate development fees.
Among the speakers Thursday afternoon was Matthew Petty, a former city planner and elected official from Arkansas, he said the key is streamlining.
"It's a problem. That all across the country, everywhere, permits, even for good projects that we should be enthusiastic about are getting slower every year, even for the best projects. That's something I think we can fix."
In addition to making available pre-approved plans, as some jurisdictions have, he suggests cities also get specific about what they want and where in planning documents, and let everyone know about it.
"With a program like this, you can show a map on the screen and parcel by parcel, anyone can click on those parcels and know exactly what the program allows on your street, or if you're a builder on a parcel that you're considering doing your project on. It's more predictable than any our laws in the code."