Apple has pledged $2.5 billion to help address California’s affordable-housing crisis, the company announced on Monday.
These efforts to promote affordable housing are laudable, but corporate initiatives alone are unlikely to solve California’s housing crisis. The Golden State’s fundamental housing problem is that state and local laws simply don’t allow developers to build enough housing to accommodate rising demand.
In the 20th century, cities could accommodate growing demand for housing by pushing suburbs outwards. But in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles, that process has largely run its course. Most of the land within a reasonable driving distance of job centers has been developed. Which means that the only way to accommodate further growth is by increasing density: replacing single-family homes with duplexes, townhouses, and apartment buildings.
The problem is that the law doesn’t allow this in most areas. A Los Angeles Times analysis found that 62% of land in Los Angeles is zoned for single-family homes only. In San Francisco, 75% of the land is zoned not to allow anything denser than a duplex. Laws in suburban Silicon Valley are even stricter.
Ultimately, the only way to make housing affordable is to build a lot more of it. And that won’t happen without changes to the law.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s $2.5 billion might have been better spent promoting legislation to overhaul California’s zoning laws.