Commentary: The MisUse of Data in the Housing Debate

Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – Slow growthers have predictably jumped on revised demographic projects for California that show slow or even slightly declining growth over the next few decades in California to justify arguing that we don’t have a housing crisis.

I saw one argument recently that suggested that the updated state projections eliminates a need to focus on housing affordability through addressing housing shortfalls.

But there are a number of problems with interpreting the data in this way.  Most surveys that look at outmigration place housing affordability as a top reason for the decline of population growth.

For instance, PPIC found, “Thirty-three percent of Californians say the cost of their housing makes them seriously consider moving out of the state, and an additional 10% consider moving elsewhere within California.”

Earlier this year, “Seven in ten Californians say housing affordability is a big problem in their part of California—the highest share saying this in our periodic surveys since 2017.”

PPIC added, “Record numbers of people have left California, according to recent data, and departures include groups who have traditionally stayed put, such as higher income earners. Many residents (45%) say housing costs have made them seriously consider moving from their part of the state—with three-quarters of this group saying they would move outside the state.”

This is just one example among many that shows basically the same phenomenon.

So even if you accept the data at face value, you end up with this weird circular reasoning.  We don’t need additional housing because we are going to see declining population growth.  But we are experiencing declining population growth—in large part because of the housing affordability crisis.

Thus the declining population projections are a symptom of, rather than a solution to, the housing crisis.

The are other factors cited including lower birth rates and aging boomers, but the biggest factor is still “high housing costs.”

But even if we ignore the causal implications of the housing crisis—how much stock should we even take in these projections?

Eric McGhee, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, cautioned Bloomberg that “the long-term forecast is ‘more illustrative than it is predictive,’ because it’s hard to project that far ahead.”

The projections are “based on a combination of natural increase in population — births minus deaths — and net migration.”  Birth rate is definitely an issue, as “demographers project that the number of deaths in California will exceed births by 2035.”

But we have known that for some time.  What has changed is not birth rates, but rather in versus outmigration.  And those numbers have changed dramatically over a very short period of time.

These same measures a decade ago saw population reaching 53 million by 2060.  Three years ago that number was revised to 45 million.  Now it’s 39.5 million.

Clearly this is not data driven by birth rates.  This is data driven by migration patterns.

So what has happened over the last few years?  The housing crisis has worsened.  And COVID.

That illustrates exactly the problem here.  2020 to 2023 has been perhaps the most tumultuous period in the last century.  We had a major disruption in a pandemic.  And we have the ongoing housing crisis.

This is the same point I have been making with regard to evaluating crime—crime surged everywhere during the pandemic and now it is starting to go back down to pre-pandemic levels.  That’s not a shocking result, but changing or blaming policies due to pandemic disruptions is not great public policy.

Thus I would argue: (A) housing is a driver of the population growth projections, and (B) the population growth projections are really too volatile to be helpful in directing housing policies at this time anyway.

It’s not just slow growthers in Davis who are overreacting to this data.

This weekend, veteran columnist Dan Walters rolled out his dystopic vision of California: “After decades of historic growth, California (is) switching to a period of chronic stagnation.”

He’s making the same mistake as the slow growthers, but coming about it from the opposite perspective.

He is worried about a stagnant population which he argues will create a “myriad” of “social, political and economic impacts – some already evident – such as not having enough workers to fill jobs and California’s loss of a congressional seat for the first time in its history.”

He argues “the old saying that demography is destiny comes into play.”

This is precisely the problem.

For a long time, Nate Silver has warned, “Demographics Are Not Destiny.”

He was speaking mainly of the impact of demographics on politics, but I tend to agree overall.  Moreover, I would add a further caveat, projections are not destiny either, particularly projections that are as volatile as population growth.

The idea that we need to rely on population growth to continue to have economic growth, I think, is flawed in and of itself.  We have already reached a post-industrial revolution in this country and we are about to embark on an AI revolution—and while we shouldn’t be blind to the downside potential of this technology, it also has some advantages including the potential at least to sustain growth in productivity that could compensate for a flatter population curve.

In any case, in terms of growth projections locally and statewide, I think we need to be very careful to understand what is driving those growth projections and also just how volatile they are, and how a sudden but dramatic event—like a pandemic—can create huge shifts in a very short period of time.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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41 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    Are you still talking about housing?

    Well, the first thing that Walter would tell you is that the “u” in “misuse” does not have to be capitalized.

    That is, unless you think the second “c” in CostCo needs to be capitalized.  🙂

    Davis, CA – Slow growthers have predictably jumped on revised demographic projects for California that show slow or even slightly declining growth over the next few decades in California to justify arguing that we don’t have a housing crisis.

    That’s exactly what it means.

    I saw one argument recently that suggested that the updated state projections eliminates a need to focus on housing affordability through addressing housing shortfalls.

    So even if you accept the data at face value, you end up with this weird circular reasoning.  We don’t need additional housing because we are going to see declining population growth.  But we are experiencing declining population growth—in large part because of the housing affordability crisis.

    If people are leaving “due to high housing costs”, what exactly is the problem?  (That’s the reason that so many have moved to the Sacramento region from the Bay Area in the first place.)

     

     

    “High housing costs” also means that the housing will never actually get built, despite what the state is “demanding”.  It’s not “penciling out” for developers in high-cost markets.

    Thus the declining population projections are a symptom of, rather than a solution to, the housing crisis.

    It’s a “solution”.

    But the other part regarding “misuse of data” is that you’re assuming that adding more housing is going to reduce housing costs to the point at which the population starts growing again.  And yet, no projected numbers/quantification has been provided AT ALL regarding this assumption.

    The projections are “based on a combination of natural increase in population — births minus deaths — and net migration.”  Birth rate is definitely an issue, as “demographers project that the number of deaths in California will exceed births by 2035.”

    Which has nothing to do with housing costs.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      By the way, there seems to be a significant problem with formatting on the Vanguard now, especially when copying and pasting comments.  I could barely even read what I was posting, as a result of this technical problem.

  2. Ron Oertel

    For instance, PPIC found, “Thirty-three percent of Californians say the cost of their housing makes them seriously consider moving out of the state, and an additional 10% consider moving elsewhere within California.”

    So again, I would ask:
    What exactly is the goal, here?  To make housing costs in California the same as everywhere else?  And to make housing costs the same everywhere within California, as well?

    Since when has that ever been possible?  What are the assumptions being put forth, here?

     

     

      1. Ron Oertel

        And you don’t see “lack of goal” as a problem, apparently.  Just cry “housing crisis” like a chicken with your head cut off.  Of that guy who cried “wolf”.

        But seriously, I’ve never seen a coherent argument regarding “why” it’s a “problem” that some places are more (or less) expensive than other places.

        Again, probably half the people in the Sacramento region came from a more-expensive region

        https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/increased-migration-bay-area-to-sacramento-18262928.php

         

         

        1. Ron Oertel

          Well, that supposed “goal” has never been defined or quantified.

          In fact, the term “housing crisis” doesn’t have any particular defined or quantified meaning.

          Sometimes, folks refer to “housing crashes” as “housing crises”.

          1. David Greenwald

            I think you continue to miss this point – it has been both defined and quantified.

            As the LAO put it: “California has a serious housing shortage. California’s housing costs, consequently, have been rising rapidly for decades” Most importantly: “These high housing costs make it difficult for many Californians to find housing that is affordable and that meets their needs, forcing them to make serious trade-offs in order to live in California”

            That’s the essence of the crisis – the inability to find housing that is both AFFORDABLE and MEETS THE NEEDS of citizens.

            That leads to having to make trade-offs in order to live in California.

            And it in turns has led many to seek to move elsewhere.

            Which has led to the projected demographic trends.

        2. Ron Oertel

          I think you continue to miss this point – it has been both defined and quantified.
          As the LAO put it: “California has a serious housing shortage. California’s housing costs, consequently, have been rising rapidly for decades” Most importantly: “These high housing costs make it difficult for many Californians to find housing that is affordable and that meets their needs, forcing them to make serious trade-offs in order to live in California”.

          This has no meaning, in-and-of itself.  There are essentially no homeowners or renters (in rent-controlled units) experiencing this.

          And if you (or any state agency) claims otherwise, ask the people who just purchased a house if they want to see it go down in value, or if the state would then “reimburse” the fixed cost of their mortgages.

          Again, I’d ask you (or any state agency) to put forth numbers (e.g., XX number of housing they want to see built in order to reduce housing prices by XX amount, per given community).  Otherwise, this is just pissing into the wind.

          What you’re referring to are people moving INTO a given area.  That’s the “problem” in the first place.

          As far as quantifying it, the state has literally said that they have the authority to make-up whatever they want, and that communities have no recourse.  (Of course, they still can’t actually force the housing to be built.)

          But again – regrading “quantifying” this claim:  What cost do they envision for housing, where in the state (since costs vary greatly within the state), how much housing would be required to achieve their undefined result, etc.?

          That’s the essence of the crisis – the inability to find housing that is both AFFORDABLE and MEETS THE NEEDS of citizens.

          “Affordable” – that’s exactly the type of housing that never has been built, and won’t be built now.

          “Meets the needs”.  Yes, I agree that housing generally requires a roof, walls, plumbing and electricity to meet someone’s “needs”.

          That leads to having to make trade-offs in order to live in California.

          We all make trade-offs in life.  But again, “California” is too-broad of a term to use in this context, since housing costs vary GREATLY within the state – and even within cities.  It would certainly require a “trade-off” for most of us to move to Tiburon compared to Bakersfield.  (Though the latter would require a different kind of trade-off.)

          And it in turns has led many to seek to move elsewhere.

          So?  Again, probably half the people in Davis and the region came from “elsewhere”.  Mostly, from more-expensive places, no doubt.

          And again, unless housing prices are the same “everywhere”, how are you going to prevent people from seeking better opportunities?  Why is this even a goal?

          Which has led to the projected demographic trends.

          Those demographic trends (which aren’t limited to California) are ultimately ensuring that there is no “housing crisis”.

          As U.S. demographics change, the housing market is likely to shift with it. Experts predict that there will be a surplus of roughly 250,000 homes on the market annually, which can lead to depressed home prices and reduced new construction. By 2023, the report said, the surplus of homes will shift favorably to meet demand. Some owner-occupied homes will be converted to rental housing, and more millennials will embrace homeownership, helping to close the gap between supply and demand. Meanwhile, new construction will slow as the demand for housing will not be as high as it has been in recent years.

          https://www.gobankingrates.com/investing/real-estate/baby-boomer-mortality-rates-change-housing-market/

           

  3. Ron Oertel

    As far as “misuse” of data, that’s a misuse of the word “misuse”.
    Data is what it is.  However, it’s usually incomplete (at best) in regard to drawing larger conclusions.

    Two people can look at that the same data and arrive at totally-different conclusions.  That doesn’t mean that one (or the other) is “misusing” data.

    For example, here’s how Scott Wiener views data:
    Hear no evil

    Wiener and Wicks knew the numbers would be grim. Pointing to the meager production, especially the production of affordable housing, critics could question the effectiveness of the preemptive supply-side program at the very moment that legislators were starting to vet 2023 bills intended to expand it. The situation called for damage control.

    https://48hills.org/2023/08/lots-of-housing-laws-not-much-housing/

      1. Ron Oertel

        And that’s where things go “off the rails”.  But not in the manner you’re suggesting.

        But again, data itself is usually incomplete (at best).

        For example you sometimes bring up crime rates, and then note that (for example) the election of the new DA in San Francisco hasn’t made a difference.

        Which ignores the potential impact of all of the other policy changes throughout the state (e.g., changes in laws, closures of prisons, etc.).  And in fact, “other” changes in data (beyond the criminal justice system itself) may also have an impact on crime.  Which might not even be examined in the first place.

        In regard to the so-called “housing crisis”, data would include “alternatives” that folks pursue (e.g., where housing costs and salaries are better-aligned) , any widening gaps between salary vs. housing costs for those at the lower end, the impact of uncontrolled immigration, etc.  (Just off the top of my head.)  Not to mention taxes, perceived quality of schools/political agendas, etc.

         

      2. Ron Oertel

        Oh – and the biggest impact of all (which is related to gaps between those at the lower end of the economic spectrum vs. those at the upper end, as well as housing costs):

        That is, unbridled pursuit of economic development (e.g., in a locale such as the Bay Area).  Which then, by the way – leads to migration to places like the Sacramento region and beyond.

         

      3. Keith Olsen

        Data isn’t “what it is” – it has to be interpreted and contextualized.

        Yes, and it should be “interpreted and contextualized” by someone who isn’t biased with an agenda.

          1. David Greenwald

            You of all people…. As Nietzsche once said, there are no facts, only interpretations. I would add, everyone has their own perspective that they bring to those interpretations.

        1. Ron Oertel

          As Nietzsche once said, there are no facts, only interpretations. I would add, everyone has their own perspective that they bring to those interpretations.

          And yet, you claim that others are “misusing” data.

           

          1. David Greenwald

            Yes. And maybe we can get off this little bit and start addressing the points raised instead of dealing with this nonsense.

        2. Ron Oertel

          David:  I don’t think there’s a single point that you’ve brought up (not just today, but every day) that I haven’t “addressed” (from my perspective, at least).

          I don’t recall you addressing even a single point that I’ve brought up.

          1. David Greenwald

            All you’ve done is attempt to argue that there is no housing crisis, while ignoring the fact that people are explicitly citing cost of housing as a reason for leaving which is in fact what is driving the very volatile projections for population growth and decline. You have a problem here because you are trying to argue that we don’t need more housing because the population is declining when in fact the decline is driven by the cost of housing. You can’t get out of that problem so you deny it exists.

        3. Ron Oertel

          You have a problem here because you are trying to argue that we don’t need more housing because the population is declining when in fact the decline is driven by the cost of housing. You can’t get out of that problem so you deny it exists.

          The short answer is that I don’t view that as a “problem”, as already noted.  (Of course, that’s not the only reason for the lack of population growth.)

          But if you (or anyone) views this as a problem, the only real “solution” is to make housing costs the same everywhere.

           

           

          1. David Greenwald

            There you have it.

            BUT, your only “real solution” is a red herring. You don’t need to make housing costs the same everywhere. That’s silly. It ignores the social cost of moving. It ignores way too much to even seriously contemplate. Go back to the LAO narrative – better match affordability to needs and you alleviate the problem. Notice I use the term alleviate rather than solve.

        4. Ron Oertel

          There you have it.

          Indeed.

          BUT, your only “real solution” is a red herring. You don’t need to make housing costs the same everywhere. That’s silly.

          It’s a simplification of what you and others are essentially advocating for – but the concept is entirely accurate.

          It ignores the social cost of moving.

          The “social cost” – you mean like what half of the people in the Sacramento region experienced, when they moved from the Bay Area?  Or the cost “paid” by literally thousands of workers who could suddenly telecommute, and moved to Boise or Bend where they enjoy a better life?

          Or for those who moved to Texas or Tennessee (for example), and are happy about it?

          It ignores way too much to even seriously contemplate.

          Again, a lot of people have done more than “contemplate”.  In fact, you yourself came from a different, more-expensive (and I would argue “nicer”) community than Davis.  Why were you willing to “pay” for the “social cost”?

          Where (exactly) is it “written” that anyone has a “right” to live in a given community, and pay no more than XX number of dollars for that?  Especially as communities change over the years, often due to the pursuit of “economic development”.

          Let me know, as I was priced-out of my original home town as well.

          Go back to the LAO narrative – better match affordability to needs and you alleviate the problem. Notice I use the term alleviate rather than solve.

          Again, this is not defined, ignores the impacts resulting from the pursuit of “economic development”, and still wouldn’t prevent people from seeking opportunities elsewhere.  (With the latter still not defined as an actual “problem”.)

          The fact that it originates from the state’s “legislative office” does not impress me.  YIMBY-supported state officials are the primary problem in the first place.

          There’s another (probably larger factor) than people “moving” out of California.  That is, there are also fewer people moving TO California – partly as a result of housing costs (and taxes, etc.).  Neither of these outcomes are a “problem”.

           

          1. Don Shor

            The housing crisis has three main parts.

            Homelessness: `150,000 – 250,000 people in California are homeless, two-thirds of them unsheltered.

            Affordability, rental market and buyers market; for example, a housing cost ratio for renters above 30% (rent burdened).
            “Before the pandemic, about half of California renters were rent burdened, which means that more than 30% of their income went toward rent, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.”
            https://calmatters.org/explainers/housing-costs-high-california/
            The rate of rent burdened households has apparently increased since the pandemic.

            Housing inventory: shortage of homes for sale. This is sometimes defined as the gap between household formations and housing starts. The simplest metric, as with rentals, is the vacancy rate.
            “As households form and housing starts fail to keep pace, the number of homes sitting empty falls. The homeowner vacancy dropped from 2% in 2012 to 0.8% by the end of 2022.”
            https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/08/homes/housing-shortage/index.html

            6/13/2023, from a local realtor: “There are currently only 24 homes on the market (Metrolist MLS) in Davis, and just 17 excluding halfplexes and condos.”

            These problems are multi-factorial so reducing the impacts requires multiple strategies tailored to each region (https://www.fanniemae.com/research-and-insights/perspectives/us-housing-shortage). At the moment our state’s focus is on increasing supply by removing local obstacles to housing construction.

            The projection that the population in some parts of the state might drop in the next generation to the point where these issues might stabilize is of little use to those of the current generation who are seeking housing. The current housing shortage includes a twenty-year backlog. Population projections 20 years out likely come with lower confidence than those for the next 10 – 20 years, particularly since immigration is the biggest variable and immigration projections are affected by politics, economics, and trends in the labor market such as mechanization, changing ag crops, etc.

            The impacts of these shortages include increased housing insecurity, some percentage of the homeless numbers, disproportionate housing costs for low- and middle-income renters and home buyers, and even the personal and financial costs of moving.

            If you own your own home, and perhaps own rental housing in town, and haven’t experienced housing insecurity or know anyone who has experienced housing insecurity in the ever-tighter Davis market, it is likely you wouldn’t have much empathy for those affected by the current housing shortage. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means you don’t have much direct experience with what that entails for those trying to buy or rent a home locally. They have reasons for moving and living here that are just as valid as yours. It can be very difficult to move away from an area, regardless of the economic merits of doing so. Keep in mind that a large percentage of the population lives one paycheck at a time, with very little cash reserve.

            The reality is that those who analyze the housing industry overwhelmingly state that there is a housing shortage that is having impacts severe enough to call it a crisis, and they provide considerable evidence for that.

            The goal is to provide more housing in order to help alleviate those adverse impacts somewhat. That’s it. It entails building some more housing, which in California often means removing the locally created impediments and striving to ensure that some percentage of the housing built will benefit those who most need it.

            You don’t need exact numbers. The state has provided some guidance through its RHNA process, as have the recent population projections for the Sacramento region. Developers will happily provide more than the RHNA amount and more than the regional rate of growth, so Davis voters have the luxury of demanding more benefits from housing development and choosing between proposals. Developers pay for the elections, so it’s their gamble.
            Providing housing that is proportional to our regional projected growth over the next couple of decades is a reasonable strategy and could probably be achieved within the Davis 1% growth limitation.

            I would prefer that you not bother with a line-by-line response to this. Probably better to stick to the broader topic rather than digressing into all the side debates that fill up so much of the comment section.

        5. Ron Oertel

          You’re the one who said that you wanted to “start addressing the points raised instead of dealing with this nonsense.”

          I’ve been addressing them every day.

          Does “uncle” mean that we won’t be seeing a “housing crisis” article tomorrow and the next day?  🙂

           

          1. David Greenwald

            It means that attempting to explain this stuff to you is futile and I should have known it was futile. And the more I explain it, the more convoluted your response is.

        6. Ron Oertel

          By “futile”, I assume you mean that I’ve addressed every single one of your claims, and that you have no further (logical) response.

          I can think of some additional claims you might want to add – to which I’d also have a response.

          I don’t mind discussing this with you, but when you bring up the same points day-after-day, and I respond to them day-after-day (with no further response from you, other than an insult), what do you suppose is being accomplished here?

        7. Richard McCann

          Keith O

          Everyone has some type of bias–there is no one who is “completely objective.” However, there are people who are better trained to digest and interpret different types of data. And often their apparent “bias” comes from their experience in interpreting that data. So your assertion is impossible to complete as stated–but you can rely on those with expertise to provide you a reasonable well-founded interpretation.

        8. Richard McCann

          Ron O

          Your mistake is that you look at the housing situation as a simplistic mass-balance problem where individuals should be shuttled back and forth between communities where housing vacancies are available, regardless of whether they will have a job in their new location or any connections with the community. You’ve left out the much more important indicator of market price and affordability as measured as a proportion of income. Those two metrics introduce the human element into your equation. And those indicators point to a housing crisis. And Davis has exacerbated the local shortage with its growth controls.

          Here’s a recent article on the national problem.

          A New Housing Status Quo Amid A Dying Or Dead American Dream https://click1.news.investingchannel.com/ViewMessage.do;jsessionid=4B24ECF9D441CCA640E20BABDFFC8A16

        9. Richard McCann

          By “futile”, I assume you mean that I’ve addressed every single one of your claims, and that you have no further (logical) response.

          No, Ron, it means that you are completely unwilling, like every other Internet troll, to actually engage in a productive discussion where there is give and take and each person comes away more enlightened. Instead you prefer to be a dictator of one who’s singular point of view is infallible.

        10. Ron Oertel

          Even David does not call me a “troll”.

          But if had any sense of balance (which you’re sorely missing), you’d direct your comment back at him (in regard to “misuse” of data), and his suggestion that we should “start addressing the points raised instead of dealing with this nonsense” – the latter of which I agree with.

          As far a being a “dictator of one who’s singular point of view is infallible”, this is certainly not something I’ve ever claimed to be.

          But if you want to take David up on his suggestion (to actually address the points raised), how about if you do so – rather than engage in repeated, unsupported personal attacks?

  4. Ron Oertel

    Despite what David and others claim, declining births and increasing deaths are the main driver of low population growth for the next few decades (per the DOF).
    Net migration out of the state is projected to be relatively minimal and declining for 2024 to 2026, with net migration into the state again happening by 2027, reaching 50K/year by 2028, and remaining at similar levels through 2060. On the other hand, while births are estimated to outnumber deaths in 2023 by about 98,000, by the year 2060 deaths are projected to outnumber births by about 118,000.

    Don:  The housing crisis has three main parts.
    Homelessness: `150,000 – 250,000 people in California are homeless, two-thirds of them unsheltered.

    These are not people who would be helped by market-rate housing.

    Affordability, rental market and buyers market; for example, a housing cost ratio for renters above 30% (rent burdened).

    Again actual numbers would need to be put forth regarding how much market-rate housing would be required to reduce rent by XX amount (and how that compares to income for these cost-burdened household).

    But again, this is the reason I support rent control.

    Housing inventory: shortage of homes for sale. This is sometimes defined as the gap between household formations and housing starts. The simplest metric, as with rentals, is the vacancy rate.

    “As households form and housing starts fail to keep pace, the number of homes sitting empty falls. The homeowner vacancy dropped from 2% in 2012 to 0.8% by the end of 2022.”

    Does this account for “shadow inventory”, second homes, etc.?  And since “when” is “vacancy rate” used to determine whether or not there’s a “housing shortage”?

    Most houses are probably sold while people are still living in them.  They are not necessarily “vacant”.

    As of 6/13  “There are currently only 24 homes on the market (Metrolist MLS) in Davis, and just 17 excluding halfplexes and condos.”

    How many does one buyer “need”?  How many are there today?

    But again, relatively low supply AND low demand are not unique to Davis these days.

    But if there’s really that much “demand”, shouldn’t each of them be selling for a lot more than they are?  Why is it that I can consistently find single-family houses in Davis in the $700K range?

    Don’t the housing activists claim that “price” is an indicator of “demand” in the first place?

    The current housing shortage includes a twenty-year backlog.

    There is absolutely no basis for this claim.  As in, NONE.

    If you own your own home, and perhaps own rental housing in town, and haven’t experienced housing insecurity or know anyone who has experienced housing insecurity in the ever-tighter Davis market, it is likely you wouldn’t have much empathy for those affected by the current housing shortage.

    The next time anyone tells you that they can’t find a house, refer them to Zillow or to a local real estate agent.

    That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,

    Yes it does.

    it just means you don’t have much direct experience with what that entails for those trying to buy or rent a home locally. They have reasons for moving and living here that are just as valid as yours. It can be very difficult to move away from an area, regardless of the economic merits of doing so. Keep in mind that a large percentage of the population lives one paycheck at a time, with very little cash reserve.

    Right – just as most of us did.  But it’s generally easier for younger people to do so (who haven’t accumulated much stuff, are more interested in careers, are “less-tied” to a given area (especially college students who aren’t from the area in the first place), etc.

    The reality is that those who analyze the housing industry overwhelmingly state that there is a housing shortage that is having impacts severe enough to call it a crisis, and they provide considerable evidence for that.

    Right – the source is from self-interested parties and the politicians they support.

    The goal is to provide more housing in order to help alleviate those adverse impacts somewhat. That’s it.

    Define “somewhat”, and what it would take to reach it.  Put forth some actual numbers.

    And while you’re at it, put forth some numbers regarding the state of the commercial market and jobs – which directly impact demand for housing.

    It entails building some more housing, which in California often means removing the locally created impediments and striving to ensure that some percentage of the housing built will benefit those who most need it.

    Evidence does not support that claim.

    https://48hills.org/2021/01/abags-regional-housing-plan-is-a-fantasy/

    You don’t need exact numbers.

    Yeah, you do – if you’re going to claim that XX amount of housing should be built.

    The state has provided some guidance through its RHNA process, as have the recent population projections for the Sacramento region.

    The RHNA numbers are fake, and the Affordable component won’t be built anyway.  But that’s not “guidance” – it’s a dictatorial requirement to address it.  In no way does this represent “guidance” or “cooperation”.

    Population projections for the Sacramento region are primarily based upon folks moving from areas which are less-impactful, environmentally speaking (to an area which has a larger environmental impact).

    Developers will happily provide more than the RHNA amount and more than the regional rate of growth, so Davis voters have the luxury of demanding more benefits from housing development and choosing between proposals. Developers pay for the elections, so it’s their gamble.

    Name one local proposal which addresses future RHNA targets (which haven’t even been established at this point).

    I would prefer that you not bother with a line-by-line response to this. Probably better to stick to the broader topic rather than digressing into all the side debates that fill up so much of the comment section.

    You might prefer that, but you’re the one who put forth “line-by-line” claims.  (I haven’t relisted all of them, however.)  As such, I ask that you allow this response.

     

    I

  5. Ron Oertel

    This will be my last comment in this article, unless someone wants to engage further.

    In any case, perhaps someone might want to let me know how anyone can claim “housing crisis” (in regard to brand-new, local single-family dwellings) when there’s 32 of them available right now (just from one single builder) in “North, North Davis”.  Not including other builders and “pre-owned” houses from private sellers.

    https://www.lennar.com/new-homes/california/sacramento/woodland

    In what universe would this be considered a “crisis”?  How can anyone (and I mean anyone) claim this with a straight face?

    1. Ron Oertel

      The scope of your initial comment wasn’t clear (e.g., Davis vs. California vs, U.S.).

      But it looks to me like they were continuing to build houses during that period, regardless.

      But you’ve actually brought up an important point:  The claims regarding a “housing shortage” are largely based upon past/historical development patterns and population growth.

      And as David often points out, things change.

      If folks think that housing prices are “too high”, they can always lower their sale or rental prices.  No one is holding a gun to their head, forcing them to charge the most they possibly can.

      In any case, the “good news” is that David has seemingly listened to my suggestion, as there’s no new housing crisis article today.

      So I’m glad that nonsense is behind us.  🙂

       

  6. Tim Keller

    Sorry for coming to this discussion late, but I do feel a need to chime in here as someone who has spent a fair bit of time trying to get his head around “the data” on Davis growth…

    The short response is:  A slowing long-term, state-side growth rate tells us almost nothing about how much housing we should build in the city of Davis.

    For one, as David has pointed out, the logic is circular… housing is expensive at the moment, because most cities are building very little new housing, and so the population growth is slowing…  But if the state is successful in its campaign to strike-down anti-housing laws like our Measure J, then that situation might change very rapidly.

    But the point Im more interested in making is this:   State-Wide growth rates are about the dumbest way to try to plan DAVIS’s growth rates you can possibly attempt.

    For example.   If Davis was a lumber-mill town and the local lumber mill shut down, we would expect not a 0.5% population growth rate, but a dramatic collapse in housing demand.

    Or lets say you are a town where a new factory is going to be set up.. there you would see a MUCH higher growth rate.

    The state population growth averages mean almost NOTHING in terms of LOCAL housing demand.   True housing demand for Davis is about JOBS… both inside Davis, and in the local region within commuting distance from Davis.  (being a student qualifies as a “job” in this context by the way)

    This attempt to provide a counter-growth narrative reminds me of a trope that you see from a lot of young would-be entrepreneurs writing their first business plan:  They will say something like “if I could sell this product to only 1% of the people in China, my sales would be $X Billion dollars”

    People like me who see a LOT of business plans have seen this kind of logic. before, and we call it “top-down business planning”.  The problem with saying “I will get XX% of the market” based on a total market, is that often there is no concrete play for HOW you are going to reach that 1% of the Chinese population, or even why 1% of that population might be actually interested in being a customer…   those kinds of market capture scenarios are usually based on essentially no real plans.

    The same lazy intellectualism is at play here.   To say that the state’s population growth is slowing and ergo we don’t need to build housing entirely ignores the multiple, easily observavle, street-level realities which point us to the fact that our housing market is already significantly under-built.

    As I showed in some of my recent articles, Davis has a significant diaspora of people who work here and would LOVE to live here.     If we can build enough housing to give THAT population a home and we see the pricing of Davis come more into balance with the home prices in nearby cities, then… (maybe) we can take into consideration this datapoint of a slowing growth rate.  Until then, the long-term undersupply of housing in Davis completely overwhelms any potential effect brought by this slowing of population growth.

    The one place where I think this newly available number might be important in planning housing for Davis is in anticipating the growth of the UC Davis student body, (since the UC tries to accommodate 10% of the state’s students.)     Of course… that is a system-wide target, and we know that Davis has gotten orders to expand dis-proportionately in the past… but if you wanted to model the growth of the UCD student body over time… and then try to figure out how many additional jobs would be created in the local economy because of that growth in the university, then this state-wide data would be a good basis for THAT prediction… but that is about it.

    Anyone pointing to this data and citing it as evidence that “we don’t need to grow” is either a fool, or is simply expressing confirmation bias…

    1. Ron Oertel

      As I showed in some of my recent articles, Davis has a significant diaspora of people who work here and would LOVE to live here.

      Right – because Davis is the “paradise of California”.  Much better than Tiburon, for example.

      The state population growth averages mean almost NOTHING in terms of LOCAL housing demand.   True housing demand for Davis is about JOBS…

      There aren’t many workers in Davis in the first place.  And yet, folks like you want to make the “problem” you complain about worse, via support for developments like DISC.

      If we can build enough housing to give THAT population a home and we see the pricing of Davis come more into balance with the home prices in nearby cities, then… (maybe) we can take into consideration this datapoint of a slowing growth rate.

      Housing in nearby cities already keep the price of Davis housing in check.

      Until then, the long-term undersupply of housing in Davis completely overwhelms any potential effect brought by this slowing of population growth.

      What you’re actually advocating for is the “shifting” of population from areas in which residents have a lesser environmental impact (e.g., the Bay Area), to areas which have a much higher impact (sprawl, cars, air conditioning, thirsty yards).

      And yet, you claim to be an advocate for dense housing – the type that folks are abandoning in droves, in places like San Francisco.

       

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