Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California

Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California
Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Ideas to help solve the housing crisis. Here are a few ideas from others and some of my own. Mary Cummins

How to solve the housing crisis, homeless, eviction, homelessness, house, home,condo, shelter, apartment, building, mary cummins, los angeles, california, ideas, solutions
There is no doubt that California has a Housing Crisis. Not enough units have been built in the last 30 years to keep up with the demand for housing. Insufficient housing has been built because of rising cost of land and construction, miles of red tape in development and  NIMBYs (not in my back yard) to name just a few causes. The article linked below has some good ideas to help solve the housing crisis. I will list all the ideas then add my own.

  • Provide resources and incentives for local governments to pay for their fair share of housing.
  • Integrating housing and transportation planning and investment.
  • Working with locals to reduce regulatory barriers to production.
  • Making state excess property available for affordable housing. 
  • Providing financial assistance to developments to ensure long-term housing affordability.
  • Recognizing that wildfire, climate change, water supplies and quality, environmental protection, efficient transportation and protecting good jobs are all involved. 
  • Change zoning restrictions so multi-family buildings can be built in other zones.
  • Expand tax incentives for below market rate housing construction.
  • Stop adding costs to the home building process with more costly laws and regulations.
  • Roll back some of the out of control building fees.
  • Allow an increase in density along transit corridors.
  • CEQA reform to make it easier and quicker to get projects approved.
  • Guarantee a living wage so wages can keep up with rent increases.
  • Train young people through union apprenticeship programs so they can earn more money.
  • Ensure new buildings are sustainable for the environment.
  • Provide rental assistance to help families secure a home.
  • Protect renters from losing their home and falling into homelessness.
  • Every city in the state must build affordable housing.
  • Allow novel housing options such as micro units, cooperatives, co-living, modular housing.
  • Increase homeowner property tax exemption which hasn't changed since 1974.
  • Reform RHNA process to increase development of homes.
  • Don't allow NIMBYs to use CEQA to stop housing projects for political reasons.
Below are some of my ideas. My basic idea is to have pre-approved plans for standard 2-8 unit two-story buildings on 50' x 100' or 150' lots which NIMBYs can't reject or even have a say in the matter after initial approval. I'm talking about sites already zoned for multi units which only have one old house which are R2+ and other zones which are grandfathered such as C2. The public can have a say in the initial approval of the cookie-cutter units but not after that. This would cut down on the holding costs from permit to occupancy certificate. It would also cut down on the architect, design fees by having the plans be in the public domain. This would make it easier and faster for building and safety inspectors to inspect. 
  • Have pre-approved plans for cookie cutter developments on R2+ standard lots for 2-8 U.
  • Have pre-approved plans for ADUs.
  • Educate poor people about how to work, save money to buy, maintain a home. 
  • Protect poor people from real estate scams. I've seen so many people get ripped off because they didn't speak English, couldn't read or write or just were uneducated and naive.
  • Inventory all vacant properties, underutilized and raw land. Work with owners to make vacant properties habitable, redevelop or sell. Same with vacant land. Other cities have done this with help from cities, developers and non-profits.
Below are some pics of new two and four unit buildings which are cookie cutters. There are a few developers building these on lots with only one old major fixer home. The first is two units, two story. The units are 3 bed, 2 bath which can house an extended family. The ones I've seen have good sized rooms so there could be two beds in each room and/or bunk beds. 

Below is a four unit building. These are plain buildings that meet strict city of Los Angeles building and safety building codes. There should be one plan for properties with an alley which has parking in the rear and properties which don't have an alley and will need a driveway to garages in rear.  

I also believe the city, county, state should do an analysis of the current housing stock. It should include a list of vacant land suitable for housing, under developed properties and properties with inhabitable structures. Plans should be made to give the owners incentives to rehab, develop or rehab the properties. Other cities such as South Bend, Indiana has done this with success.

Government should also look at the various properties and their zones. Perhaps some non-residential zoned land could be used to build multi-family. Maybe some areas zoned R1 which already have some multi-family can be rezoned for R1.5 or R2 uses. Perhaps people with R1 properties should be allowed to legally rent out the individual rooms to different individuals. People are already doing this illegally. If it were legal, there could be regulations to make sure the housing is safe and the tenant is protected. Generally if you share a kitchen in a home, you're not a tenant. You could be evicted with no notice. I'm sure there are many more ideas out there. I welcome a multi-prong approach to help solve the housing crisis.

Let me add a list of things that won't help the housing crisis. In fact these things have caused and made the housing crisis much worse.

  • Rent control. This will cause landlords to remove units from the market. It will cause developers to buy run down buildings, either demolish or do major renovations, pass that through to the tenant who can't afford it and tenant will have to leave. Rent control makes things worse. Developers won't build if they think the buildings could have rent control. As rents rise so do landlords property tax, insurance, supplies, labor, permits, maintenance...
  • Yelling "gentrification" and attacking developers, development as "evil" because the rent has risen for some tenants in some buildings. "Gentrification" is actually a real estate cycle called "revitalization." It's not a dirty word. I wrote an article about it here. If you don't revitalize the area, you create slums. Revitalization creates jobs, causes wages to increase, adds living units, improves the neighborhood, increases value of real estate, increases revenue to businesses, the city, county, state and federal government. More jobs, more homes are created for each tenant who must leave a building for redevelopment. The tenant gets relocation fees in the thousands. Notice property owners are fine with property values increasing. It's only the tenants who are not. Notice offices, retail stores, restaurants have to move. They realize it's just economics and move. DTLA artists moved from those artist lofts to lofts in Long Beach. When Long Beach became more expensive they move to lofts in Santa Ana. If you want low rent, you have to live in a low rent area. 
  • Building condo units for poor people to buy under market value. When the value of the unit increases, they will want to sell for profit. Some don't allow the owners to sell for profit. When they don't, the owners refinance all of the equity out of the property. Most end up in foreclosure because they can't sell the condo for market i.e. more than their new loan. These people didn't have enough money or income to buy a home. They are set up to fail and lose their home. I've seen this happen repeatedly. The owners also stop paying HOA dues as the complexes fall apart. This is one of Bernie Sanders ideas so is rent control and yelling "gentrification." He needs a real estate consultant because all of his ideas fail in real life. I've been in real estate since 1983, over 35 years. I watched rent control in BH, WH, SM and LA. It failed.

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the
Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

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