California’s gubernatorial candidates want developers building 500K homes a year

The ambitious goal aims to put a dent in the state’s severe housing crisis

Home under construction, with Gavin Newsom, left, and Antonio Villaraigosa, right (Getty)
Home under construction, with Gavin Newsom, left, and Antonio Villaraigosa, right (Getty)

The race for the governor’s seat in California is on, and the state’s affordable housing crisis is taking center stage for at least two of the leading candidates.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa say they want developers building half a million homes a year to combat the state’s severe housing crisis, the Los Angeles Times reported.

That would mean a total of 3.5 million new homes would be built, from the governor’s inauguration in 2019 until 2025.

But that goal is considered unrealistic by many, especially those who look to California’s slow-building past as a reality check.

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Since 1954, there have only been two instances where developers built over 300,000 homes in a year. To hit the 500,000 mark, the state would have to triple the historical average and quadruple last year’s production. In Los Angeles, where there is a severe lack of affordable housing, the city has encouraged developers by loosening zoning and vehicle parking restrictions for new constructions that include affordable units.

Newsom has proposed spending millions on low-income homes, and setting up a rewards system for cities and counties that build near transit. Villaraigosa suggests isolating property tax dollars for low-income housing and easing the loan process for homeowners who build so-called “granny flats.”

While there have been no explicit plans detailing the logistics of the proposed housing construction boom, both candidates have said they expect their statements will keep them accountable.

The declarations could not come at a worse time for the homebuilding industry, which is grappling with a sharp increase in construction costs. Last week, President Trump hiked tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, months after setting a 20 percent tax on Canadian lumber. [LAT] — Natalie Hoberman