EHL has teamed up with housing advocates to advance better planning in the state.
By anyone’s reckoning, California is failing. Housing is not affordable to low and moderate income households, homelessness is a pervasive crisis, traffic only gets worse, and infill opportunities are lost. Meanwhile, local governments continue to expand development into dangerous and remote fire-prone landscapes at the cost of biodiversity, natural beauty, and worsening climate change. The enormous price tag for fire-fighting is passed along to taxpayers who live in safe locations.
Over the decades, the State Legislature has failed repeatedly to manage growth, but perhaps the dual crises of fire and housing might make allow it to overcome opposition from local government and sprawl developers.
To this end, EHL and California YIMBY (“Yes In My Backyard”) have convened two climate-housing summits of key stakeholders – environmental, housing, social equity. We seek alignment of these organizations on policies for new homes closer to jobs and transit and in fire-safe areas that generate less greenhouse gas emissions from long commutes. As time goes on, we will expand the outreach to other constituencies and organizations.
Also, importantly, the California Insurance Commissioner recently called for a reassessment of ongoing state subsidies to new development in fire zones. It is only common sense to stop providing financial incentives for bad planning with below-market fire insurance. While his initial proposals stop short of being effective – local government would find ways to circumvent them – they are an excellent start.