We respect the City Council's effort to find a way to build more low-income housing. We also hope that as they are presented with the facts about today's building environment they will give up their old stereotypes and acknowledge much of the high cost to build is the result of government regulation. Builders have said with each new regulation, fee, code expansion, land restriction, limit and paperwork requirement that it will add cost to the final product. That is, it will cost more to build and cost more to buy or rent.
We ALL want affordable housing. Heck, it's the tag line for our organization - Committed to Building an Affordable Chico. In practice it means working to reduce additional cost and delays brought on by policy makers.
The Chico ER did an excellent deep dive into the facts about housing in Chico and the region. They did 11 front-page Sunday articles explaining the complexities, challenges and risks of home building. How the Camp Fire wiped out 15,000 affordable homes that can't be replaced affordably today.
Developers and Builders have presented at the Council Housing Task Force on the costs and the risks of home building. We detailed how the high price of land in Chico, labor, material, financing, fees, regulations and risk combine to cause the basic cost to build a new home to be out of reach for many local households.
Being a developer is not a closed club. Anyone who wants to take on the risk, front the money, wait for approvals, finance basic infrastructure and be the last one paid is able to participate! Start here with finding land to buy: www.realtor.com.
Policy makers need to ask if their solutions to the housing crisis, and the lack of affordable and low-income housing, are addressing the root cause. Will their solutions result in more housing units that can be built at lower cost? What impact will the solution have on the housing market? If it doesn't increase units while lowering cost, it's not a solution.
We hope that having been presented with facts about the cost to build in Chico, policy makers will make use of those facts. Out-of-the-box thinking and fresh ideas are great as long as they are weighed using the facts we are faced with today.
Remember, anyone can be a developer! Start with buying some properly zoned land, ideally with infrastructure. www.realtor.com.