My View: The Housing Crisis Figures to Accentuate the Climate Crisis

Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

An analysis by the LA Times noted the inverse relationship between cost of housing and temperature.  They tracked one family who moved from Antioch to Lathrop.

“The median home in Lathrop sold for $530,400 in June 2023, compared with $930,000 in Antioch’s Contra Costa County,” the Times reported.  (Interesting because of course, Antioch was once a refuge for even more expensive and even cooler Bay Area cities).

It’s a big win for the family except for one problem—temperature.

The Times noted that the cost of home prices “is inversely related to the climate: The hotter a region is, the more affordable housing is.”

And that problem is likely to get worse.

For example, Antioch “will have 71 days of extreme heat annually on average between 2035 and 2064”—that’s a lot, but “San Joaquin County is expected to endure about 121 days above 90 degrees each year in the same time span.”

A Times analysis showed “a clear link between projected extreme heat and home prices in California: Counties with higher home prices are less likely to face dire heat projections, and vice versa. “

The Times explained that part of this dynamic “is explained by the fact that the state’s most expensive counties are coastal, and thus less likely to be hit hardest by extreme heat, though other climate change-fueled dangers such as sea level rise are still of concern.”

They talked to Zack Subin, an associate research director for the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley who explained, “The most efficient places to grow are California’s coastal cities, both in terms of lessening the environmental footprint of residents and limiting their exposure to heat.”

But this is counterbalanced by cost of living and much of that is self-inflicted.

Indeed, this largely goes against the need to put housing near jobs.  Inland exurbs are absorbing a good deal of the new housing “even though they are significantly hotter and require long commutes to job centers.”

“We likely need more policy to better integrate the state’s housing affordability policies in concert with our climate strategies,” Subin said. “Compact development near the coasts (can) reduce emissions across sectors.”

This would allow people to drive less, building energy use is lower—partially due to less extreme heat—and undeveloped land inland can be left undisturbed.

Contrary to what some have been arguing, California’s coastal cities still have plenty of room to grow.

“It’s not a technical limitation, it’s a policy choice that we have chosen to reserve much of our [coastal] cities for surface parking lots, for exclusive single-family home zoning,” Subin said.

This is the point we made earlier in the month, growth into places where there is more heat is detrimental to climate change because it will force more people into hotter climates where “heat resilience will be a primary concern.”

The Times notes, “The state continues to build housing in places that will be most affected by extreme heat, and population is expected to grow in the Central Valley while shrinking in coastal cities and staying flat statewide.”

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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6 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    Interesting because of course, Antioch was once a refuge for even more expensive and even cooler Bay Area cities.

    I posted a link to this article, yesterday.  Interesting that you chose to ignore a primary reason that the couple in the article decided to move from Antioch, per that same article:

    But But growing concerned about crime, she and her husband decided it was time to move away from the East Bay and its delta breezes to a more affordable, far-flung community in the San Joaquin Valley.
    “I feel very safe here. No more police chases and sirens at night,” she said, citing a drive-by shooting on their block as a key reason they left Antioch. “For us it’s a win.”

    I knew someone who lived in that city decades ago.  It was viewed as a safe city, at the time.  She “escaped” at just the right time – just as it was becoming worse.

    I strongly suspect that it was the “newcomers” to that area which caused the increase in crime.

    So while folks like David obsess over what the police are doing in places like Antioch, normal folks are far more concerned about what the criminals are doing.

    Contrary to what some have been arguing, California’s coastal cities still have plenty of room to grow.

    Contrary to what some are trying to “force”, places like San Francisco (and LA) have been losing population.

    But the overall theme in this article shows the problem when places like the Sacramento valley (including Davis) purposefully accommodate sprawl from the Bay Area.  The state’s “targets” exacerbate this problem, as well.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      I try to avoid putting extraneous pieces of information into the articles because you guys have taught me you will use it as an excuse to go way off topic. The problem with the point about crime is that while it may be true (I have not looked it up) that Lathrop has a lower crime rate than Antioch, it’s not uniformly true. In fact, places like Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield – even Sacramento – while faster growing, also have higher crime rates and/ or faster increasing crime rates than their more expensive counterparts. So I don’t think the point is at all well-established or even accurate and I intentionally left it out of the discussion for that reason. But if you want to compare, let’s compare Lathrop to say Mill Valley, that’s more apples to apples than Antioch to Lathrop, do you think there is a huge difference in crime rate?

      1. Ron Oertel

        In fact, places like Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield – even Sacramento – while faster growing, also have higher crime rates and/ or faster increasing crime rates than their more expensive counterparts. So I don’t think the point is at all well-established or even accurate and I intentionally left it out of the discussion for that reason.

        The perception by the former Antioch resident is likely backed by statistics.  It certainly is “anecdotally” by the person I knew who lived there.  That is, it “used to be” much safer – it changed.

        In fact, I suspect that a lot of communities (such as Oakland, Richmond, and Stockton) were at one time considered relatively-safe as well.  Again, something “changed”.

        But if you want to compare, let’s compare Lathrop to say Mill Valley, that’s more apples to apples than Antioch to Lathrop, do you think there is a huge difference in crime rate?

        According to the article (and based upon its location), Lathrop is cheaper than Antioch.  Why would Mill Valley be a better comparison?

         

      2. Richard McCann

          Interesting that you chose to ignore a primary reason that the couple in the article decided to move from Antioch, per that same article:

        As usual, we’re being asked by Ron O to extrapolate to the entire state of California from a single anecdote. That of course is ridiculous. Why would David bother with alluding to that single anecdote from the article? Only because it aligns with your world view, not that it’s particularly useful in the analysis. If you want to make that insinuation, go back and conduct your own study rather than make an assertion off of pure speculation. As David, points out, many of the Central Valley cities have higher crime rates than the coastal cities that are pricing out residents.

        1. Ron Oertel

          As usual, we’re being asked by Ron O to extrapolate to the entire state of California from a single anecdote.

          Is that what I’m advocating?

          It’s an article that David built his entire article around.  I just noted what he “left out” from that article.

          That of course is ridiculous. Why would David bother with alluding to that single anecdote from the article?

          The thought occurred to me that David doesn’t like to focus on the impact of crime regarding one of the reasons to move.  No doubt, it’s more than “one anecdote”.

          Ask the people in San Francisco (e.g., who can’t park their car on the street without having the windows smashed) if that’s a factor.  Or retail businesses.

          Or, maybe the guy who had his car hijacked:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmbDDUFKzDo

          (Good thing that no one was on those stairs.)

          Only because it aligns with your world view, not that it’s particularly useful in the analysis.

          My “world view”?  And what might that be?

          If you want to make that insinuation, go back and conduct your own study rather than make an assertion off of pure speculation. As David, points out, many of the Central Valley cities have higher crime rates than the coastal cities that are pricing out residents.

          True – one of the first places that went downhill is Antioch.

          I don’t “need to” conduct my own study, as it’s already documented as a primary reason.  If you read the news before making comments, you’d know that without me pointing it out.

          Crime is Making Americans Flee Democratic States

          https://www.newsweek.com/why-americans-are-fleeing-democratic-states-1795292

           

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