What’s missing from Apple’s $2.5 billion housing plan

On Monday, Apple announced a $2.5 billion plan to help address the housing availability and affordability crisis in California.

Laura Bliss and Sarah Holder for CityLab:

But housing experts and advocates are cautious about how much the company’s voluntary investment can do to budge the fundamental barriers to housing construction in the state.

For one, zoning restrictions and opposition from neighborhood groups may prevent developers from seeing through bold plans to expand housing, even once they’re given the sites to build.

“It’s really, really good to have money, and it’s really, really good to have land, but you have to get all the approvals to make housing a reality,” said Leslye Corsiglia, the executive director of the affordable housing organization, Silicon Valley @ Home. “Until we can get the community to understand the need for more housing; we’ll be fighting an uphill battle.”

Most of Apple’s investment will effectively turn the company into a housing lender. The company will offer $1 billion in credit to the state and other developers to build very low to moderate-income housing. Another $1 billion will provide mortgage financing and down-payment assistance to first-time homebuyers, in tandem with the state government.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote yesterday, “Apple’s $2.5 billion might have been better spent promoting legislation to overhaul California’s zoning laws.”


  1. While possibly fixing zoning laws would help, there are way to many activists that would impede any progress, Apple might as well toss their 2.5 billion into one of their wind farms, it would have the same amount of impact. ie not much.

  2. What’s missing is that Apple shouldn’t pay anything. The real problem is over-regulation that prevents or deters creation affordable housing, from CA’s Democrat-controlled state bureaucracy. How dare they suggest that tech companies are to blame for creating too many high-paying jobs. That’s SO stupid. Most states would love to have those high paying jobs. If government gets out of the way, there would be a profit incentive to build more housing, at ALL levels. As usual, “big government” tries to look like they’re fixing a problem they created.

    1. Ken, this has absolutely nothing to do with an oppressive bureaucracy. The “overreaching regulations” are not being imposed from the top down, but from the bottom up by ordinary citizens who are, as the saying goes, insisting that affordable housing be located someplace NIMBY, “Not in my back yard.”

      We live in a country where political decisions are supposed to reflect the will of the community. All you folks who want “zoning reform” need to understand that you will be overruling the democratic process and forcing high-density housing on communities that do not want it and have voted specifically against it.

      That price may be worth it. I think so, since there is no other obvious partial solution to the housing crisis, but it is not an inconsequential cost. From the perspective of the affected neighbors, the oppressive “big government” action is the one that will put low-income housing in their neighborhoods, not the zoning laws that keep them out

      1. That area’s cirmcumstance may absolutely have nothing to do with an oppressive bureaucracy, but there is oppressive bureaucracy. My neighborhood has but one main street to enter and exit. On one side of the street, where I live, there is one zoning code and on the other is a different zoning code. The neighbor behind me has a two car detached garage. He wanted to add an additional two more bays as he is a backyard mechanic, learned in his early teens by tinkering with cars when cars were cars back in the late 60’s / early 70’s. He built his house on land his family owned that he had purchased, his sister did also, and they reside just behind his parents house where he grew up. It is a little over an acre plot. Every neighbor around him had no objection to his plans but, here’s the oppressive bureaucracy part, the city would not let him based on square foot size of his house. However, if he built a heated/cooled room and attached to the garage from the house, they had no problem with his garage expansion. But with no attached garage, the house size was just too small for the larger garage.

        Now on the other side of the street, the houses are pretty much the same single story ranch with the same size lawns as those on my side. However, since zoning code is different, the lots can be rezoned to a smaller size. Now we have had on multiple occassions where a developer would purchase a house for sale, tear it down and build up two to three houses. Big two story houses with a postage stamp size lot. Talk about unsightly and breaking the continuity and look and feel of my neighborhood. It’s okay when the government does this crap but not the citizens who they work for and who pay property taxes to the city every year that keep going up and up.

        Oh there is oppressive bureaucracy out there, you just have to look and listen.

        1. The bureaucracy didn’t make the rules. They were just enforcing them. The rules were adopted by elected city council members, county supervisors, or neighborhood associations after a lengthy process of soliciting public input and holding public hearings. The adopted rules were the product of the democratic process in which majorities tend to get what they want and minorities don’t.

          It is the nature of zoning that there are zones, areas where some activities are encouraged and others prohibited, and that the rules for different zones are different. Without zoning or an equivalent like restrictive covenants, there is nothing to stop somebody from putting a pig farm, strip club, or boiler factory next to your home.

          When I was a small child, the Supreme Court struck down racial and religious property covenants as unconstitutional. As a result, my parents were able to buy a house in Salt Lake City in a neighborhood that had been restricted to LDS members (the developer was also the ward bishop). The neighbors were offended, but they had to live with it. Neighborhoods today may have to live with higher densities and cheaper houses than the current rules allow.

          However, that won’t be because the citizens have risen against unpopular regulations created by an oppressive bureaucracy. It will be because the government has chosen to overrule popular regulations that the people created themselves.

  3. This crisis was caused by several factors, two of which are a lot of high paying jobs and zoning laws and regulations. “Caused by” is not the same as “the fault of.” Pointing fingers and blaming the other side is not a way to solve any problem. There is plenty of responsibility to go around here. Zoning laws weren’t written by a bunch of nasty liberal legislators acting in isolation. They are, at least in part, related to the NIMBY phenomenon. It’s going to take action at many levels of government, not just the state, but also locally. Mixed use zoning may be a tough sell for some. At least the legislature does appear to be more inclined to take some action than the MDN take would acknowledge.


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