To grow or not to grow? This metaphor on the Shakespearian phrase of a soliloquy, made by the protagonist Hamlet, can be interpreted in the same way as intended in the play. The main point of Hamlet’s words, deciding if either living or dying is best, is to some the equivalent of holding on to the past rather than living the unknown of the future. However the uncertainty, the future will arrive.
But unlike the ponderings of Hamlet, we have very limited choice in our housing future as this catastrophic housing crisis in California is our inherited reality. There is a current shortage of 2.4 million housing units in the Golden State with up to 50 percent of homelessness caused by California’s obscene housing costs that bear no resemblance to any reasonable wage. On a trip to San Francisco, the Uber driver explained he had to live 30 miles away from his main area of work for a two-bedroom apartment at the spartan price of $5,000 per month.
Many of the local housing decisions are taken away by the needs of the larger community. California now has a super-majority in the state government. This means whatever the state wants, the state gets. The state wants housing as the need for entry-level housing is overwhelming.
The history of making local housing decisions dates from the mid-century population boom. Greater L.A. has more than 250 different and disparate geopolitical subdivisions that were created post war to accommodate the needs of builders needing to satisfy the great California influx. By the mid 1980s, this situation had reversed to restrict housing permits to keep certain demographics out of the community.
The population of Greater Tehachapi is 37,000. The unusual geopolitical subdivision, called the city of Tehachapi, is 9,000 residents. The prison population of 4,000 becomes 13,000. Yet, within a 45-minute drive from downtown Tehachapi, there are over 850,000 people living in greater Bakersfield and greater Antelope Valley. There is no way the state of California will allow large open spaces in the middle of the city of Tehachapi to be unused for entry level housing. The leaders of a 9,000-person city cannot hold back the wishes of 38 million residents.
To be well informed one must know the opposing tensions; with one hand skyrocketing construction and labor costs, on the other hand you have an average market price of about $290,000.
With California’s notoriously high construction costs, this price point will deliver 800- to 1,300-square-foot apartments, townhouses and cottage homes. Homes must be energy efficient, have solar panels and be very judicious in their use of water. This new trend of building small homes to both meet the price point and the high construction costs is being developed all across the country. To grow or not to grow is no longer our choice. We all want a piece of the American dream at an affordable price.
Siri Statom And Jeff Ciachurski are representatives of Sage Ranch, a proposed housing development in Tehachapi.