Northern California fires nearly wiped out housing gains made over last decade

The devastating fires will worsen an already dire housing crisis in California
December 05, 2018 10:00AM

The California National Guard conducts search and clearing operations in Paradise following the Camp Fire. (Credit: California National Guard on Flickr)

The fires that devastated Northern California stand to worsen the housing crisis, as they’ve burned homes faster than developers are able to build them.

The Camp Fire alone destroyed 21,000 homes across six counties, or roughly 85 percent of the new housing that’s been built across those counties in the last decade, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“We had a housing crisis prior to the fires,” Bob Raymer, a senior engineer with the California Building Industry Association, told the Times. “This only exacerbated the crisis. I can’t even put a measure on it. Just wow.”

Residents will likely find themselves paying a construction premium because of increased costs for raw materials and labor. Communities not affected by the fires could be hurt if the state diverts funding allocated for low-income and homeless housing to help fire-affected communities rebuild.

Damage from the Woolsey Fire that burned in northwest L.A. County and Ventura County is now estimated at around $5 billion, much of that in damage to homes and private property. In Malibu, which sustained $1.6 billion in damage to single-family homes, local officials are preparing a package of measures to help locals rebuild. That includes easing zoning restrictions and hiring private contractors to beef up the planning department to hasten the pace of construction. [LAT]Dennis Lynch