Question: Do you share the assemblymember’s sentiments that housing policies should be left to local and regional governments to determine? If not, please elaborate. What are your thoughts on the state legislature’s housing policies in recent years? If so,
- What would you, as an elected official, propose as potential solutions if South County’s city governments were left to their own devices?
- What do you see as appropriate solutions or methods to ensure housing is available to new residents given the town’s population projections?
- What sort of impediments locally could potentially stand in the way of accomplishing your proposal?
Answer: When it comes to the issue of state vs local control, I think that the temptation is to simplify the argument or policy in order to win political points with our base or constituents. The truth of the matter is that it’s much more complicated and nuanced than what we would like to believe. On one side, there is a desire to maintain the character and charm of our local communities. The worry is that a state assembly, which does not understand the local charm of our town, will invoke a change that disrupts the historical fabric of our city. On the other side, the argument is made that we are in a state-wide housing crisis due to the fact that cities have not individually kept up with demand. Each city has its own reason for not doing this, and blame can be spread among all levels of government and private enterprise. Both sides have valid points and concerns. I don’t believe, however, that it is productive to pit this as an “us vs. them” battle. Rather, I think there is plenty of room for partnership between local and state governments when it comes to our housing element. Together, I believe we can find ways to develop affordable housing that also maintains and enhances the character of our city.
Looking ahead, there are several areas that our city has rezoned for mixed-use housing, such as Pico Plaza. If redeveloped, it has the potential to be a vibrant community that houses young professionals and civil service workers. This includes firefighters, police officers, and nurses, who otherwise would not be able to afford to live in our town. These mixed zones can also bring in new revenue for our city.
Our recent municipal code changes also allow easier implementation of ADUs to be built. These small steps by private individuals end up making a large dent in our housing shortage.
In the end, I don’t believe that there is a perfect answer to addressing our housing predicament. I do believe, however, that there are multiple answers, and we find them when we are willing to listen to each other, and when we are willing to work together.