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SF Chronicle Letters: Does California have a coherent plan to build the millions of units of housing it needs?

Note from Our Neighborhood Voices: This Letter to the Editor was submitted by supporter and Los Altos resident Pat Marriott, and published on SFChronicle.com.

Regarding “Did one of California’s biggest new housing reforms go too far?” (Open Forum, SFChronicle.com, Nov. 20): Gov. Gavin Newsom signed over 50 housing bills this year, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For the mind-boggling five-year total, see Alfred Twu’s excellent summaries at https://tinyurl.com/atwuhousingbills

Our representatives compete to pass the most housing laws without any analysis to gauge their effectiveness. Chris Elmendorf’s Open Forum points out the unintended consequences.

It’s the Winchester Mystery House school of planning and it’s not working. In March, Ben Metcalf, managing director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, told state legislators, “We’re coming up short” on meeting the state’s goal to build millions of new homes in the next decade.

We need a cohesive housing plan based on reality: The cost of building one affordable unit is $500,000 to $1 million; even with incentives, market-rate developers provide very few of them; public housing can only be built with public money, yet Newsom vetoed many bills for funding low-income housing.

Until we attack the housing problem with logic instead of political grandstanding, we’ll get gentrification, 50-story towers near the beach and the poor will still be left homeless. 

Pat Marriott, Los Altos


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