By Carlos Rodriguez
CEO of the BIA
Baldy View Chapter
The Inland Empire has a severe housing shortage, which if left unchecked will continue to negatively impact the economy by limiting housing affordability, job creation and local tax revenues.
On February 5, 2015, National Community Renaissance hosted a Symposium on the Affordability of Housing and published a study entitled “Housing the Future: The Inland Empire as Southern California’s Indispensable Geography.” Participating in the symposium were local elected officials, representatives from the California Realtors Association, California Apartment Association and the Building Industry Association Southern California, Baldy View Chapter (BIA).
“We need a government that understands that growth is important, that diversity of employment is important, and that housing is important,” said Joel Kotkin, researcher and author of the Housing the Future study. “We need to take care of the middle class, and the last place that’s going to happen in Southern California is the Inland Empire.”
The Inland Empire is home to more than 4 million residents, many of whom chose the area for moderately priced homes. However, that dynamic is quickly changing due to burdensome regulation that deters the development of new residential units. Many middle class families are being priced out of the market due to a drop in new development which has lowered the volume of housing stock below the growing market demand.
“There is a belief that housing is a drain on the local economy. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Carlos Rodriguez, BIA Baldy View Chapter CEO.
Rodriguez cited research from the National Association of Homebuilders showing that over the course of 15 years, a 100-unit housing project will lead to $13 million in economic growth and $4 million in additional tax revenues for the community. Unfortunately, many cities and counties still regard housing as a detriment instead of recognizing it as a critical economic asset.
“Housing is an economic catalyst, and for Southern California, housing in the Inland Empire is critical to the region’s economic sustainability,” said Steve Pontell, President of the National Community Renaissance. “We (Inland Empire) have long been the place where the middle class could afford to live. As that goes away, so will our employment base.”
Rodriguez and Pontell both noted that California is 1 million housing units short of meeting the current population demand. Southern California alone, needs an additional 600,000 homes to meet the growing demand. With limited housing availability comes limited housing affordability.
In 2005, the Victor Valley pulled 6,408 residential permits, which attributed for over 43% of the total permits countywide. In 2014, the Victor Valley’s 271 permits accounted for only 14% of the total activity in the county. Likewise, construction industry jobs countywide declined 42%, with almost 19,000 construction-related jobs lost since 2006. In that same time period, unemployment in the Victor Valley has increased by 54%.
The “Housing the Future” report reveals several enlightening statistics about the Inland Empire’s market potential. The IE has the second highest concentration of children ages 5-14 in the nation and the most significant increase in Bachelor Degrees and College-educated residents in Southern California.
The study also reveals that California has the highest development impact fees per unit in the Nation (approximately $32,000/unit). That’s twice as high as the next two highest states, Maryland ($16,000/unit) and Oregon ($15,000/unit). A shortage in housing stock is also directly related to unemployment rates, home affordability and a broad tax/consumer base. This begs the question: How will we meet the employment and housing needs of the future if housing availability continues to be limited by increased regulation and dwindling incentives?
The BIA suggests that positive policy reform can be made through the San Bernardino Countywide Vision and Housing Collaborative Element Group. We commend Supervisor Robert Lovingood, the County Board of Supervisors and the San Bernardino County Associated Governments (SANBAG) for leading this timely effort. The goal of the element group is to improve the IE’s business environment and help California families achieve the American Dream of Homeownership.
BIA recently published a Best Recommended Practices Brochure to improve the efficiency in permitting and creating a more business friendly environment at the local municipal level. The brochure outlines five best practices to: 1) Increase Customer Service, 2) Have a Well-Defined Pre-Submittal Program, 3) Improve Information and Communications, 4) Engage Stakeholder in Policy-Making Decisions and 5) Maintain Fees at Reasonable Levels.
For more information and to find links to the “BIA Best Recommended Practices Brochure” and the “Housing the Future” study please, visit www.BIABuild.com
-Carlos Rodriguez serves as CEO of the BIA, Baldy View Chapter, a non-profit trade association advocating to help meet the housing and building needs in Southern California.