Op-Ed: California’s wildfires revealed a fix for our housing crisis — if we’re willing to act

August 30, 2019

The destructive fires that roared through California over the last two years have displaced tens of thousands of people, creating a humanitarian crisis as well as a housing crisis. One of those fires provided valuable lessons on how to solve emergency housing shortages in the state — the Tubbs fire that ravaged the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County in 2017.

City and county officials treated the aftermath of the Tubbs fire as the crisis it was. In the months after the blaze, they implemented programs to expedite the rebuilding of thousands of homes. Santa Rosa reduced the fees the city levies on high-density, multifamily housing and on accessory dwelling units often called granny cottages. And instead of taking years to issue rebuilding permits, the city processed thousands each month. Sonoma County also waived some housing fees and opened a Resiliency Permit Center to speed up permitting for those dealing with fire damage.

Their approach inspired me to introduce Senate Bill 330, which I call the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. The bill would accelerate housing construction in the state during the next half-decade by slashing the time it takes for developers to get building permits, limiting fees on housing and barring local governments from reducing the number of homes that can be built.

For the full op-ed, click here.