Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Should We Have To Plan For More Housing When Millions Are Leaving California?

One of the greatest mysteries of SCAG's so-called "RHNA Process" is that it is based on the assumption that millions of people are frantically beating down the doors of California to move here and buy a condo. In the minds of Sacramento's central planners, the folks famous for having all of the answers to questions nobody wanted to ask, this region needs to build a lot of densely packed housing for new people to live, even here in Sierra Madre. Apparently SCAG has detected a great restlessness out there in the heartland, something that will soon result in a mass migration to the Golden State rivaling even the gold rush days.

The purpose of Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers is to make certain that there will be enough new development in place to accommodate these projected increases in population. The notion being that if things are carefully enough planned there will never be housing shortages and everyone will have a place to live. Which is how things could be done I suppose, but then who exactly is it that holds the crystal ball? Upon whose word do hundreds of communities throughout Southern California base their state mandated planning for new housing upon? Collectively spending millions of dollars in consultant fees in the process?

That would be SCAG, or the Southern California Area Governments, a largely Federally funded Regional Planning Organization (RPO) tasked with figuring out how many new residents are on their way to our little corner of the creation. Along with mandating how much development we should plan to build in order to accommodate these pilgrims. But is SCAG actually any good at the job? Apparently not.

As an example, if you click here you will be taken to a neatly charted stack of figures called the SCAG County Population Forecasts for 1998. As an example, you will notice that SCAG projected a 2010 Los Angeles County population of 10,868,900. But if you were to then go to a US Census site for Los Angeles County (click here) you will see that the actual population in 2010 turned out to be 9,818605. SCAG missed the mark by the considerable amount of well over 1 million souls.

Another example would be San Bernardino County (click here). SCAG's 1998 projection data claimed the population there in 2010 would be 2,239,600. The 2010 US Census figure was 2,035,210.

None of this seems to stop SCAG, however. They apparently are never held accountable for their junk population projections, and Federal funding keeps on rolling in. It really is a pretty sweet deal for them. First they issue erroneous population increase projections, then they demand through their very own "RHNA Process" that all of the communities under their thumb plan for new housing based on that bad data. In the RPO world they really are no better than your friendly neighborhood palm reader.

It gets even stranger. While SCAG continues to call today for increased housing development throughout the region based on its own population increase projections, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research says something entirely different. Using US Census findings and other current data, what the Manhattan Institute clearly shows is that since 1990 California has actually lost 3.4 million residents to other states. Which has resulted in the loss of tens of billions of dollars in state taxes.

So who exactly is it that SCAG says we need to alter the entire character of our community to accommodate? Apparently no one. They only exist on paper they themselves produce. Here is a summary taken from the Manhattan Institute report.

The Great California Exodus: A Closer Look (click here) - For decades after World War II, California was a destination for Americans in search of a better life. In many people’s minds, it was the state with more jobs, more space, more sunlight, and more opportunity. They voted with their feet, and California grew spectacularly (its population increased by 137 percent between 1960 and 2010). However, this golden age of migration into the state is over. For the past two decades, California has been sending more people to other American states than it receives from them. Since 1990, the state has lost nearly 3.4 million residents through this migration.

This study describes the great ongoing California exodus, using data from the Census, the Internal Revenue Service, the state’s Department of Finance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and other sources. We map in detail where in California the migrants come from, and where they go when they leave the state. We then analyze the data to determine the likely causes of California’s decline and the lessons that its decline holds for other states.

The data show a pattern of movement over the past decade from California mainly to states in the western and southern U.S.: Texas, Nevada, and Arizona, in that order, are the top magnet states. Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah follow. Rounding out the top ten are two southern states: Georgia and South Carolina.

A finer-grained regional analysis reveals that the main current of migration out of California in the past decade has flowed eastward across the Colorado River, reversing the storied passages of the Dust Bowl era. Southern California had about 55 percent of the state’s population in 2000 but accounted for about 65 percent of the net out-migration in the decade that followed. More than 70 percent of the state’s net migration to Texas came from California’s south.

What has caused California’s transformation from a “pull in” to a “push out” state? The data have revealed several crucial drivers. One is chronic economic adversity (in most years, California unemployment is above the national average). Another is density: the Los Angeles and Orange County region now has a population density of 6,999.3 per square mile—well ahead of New York or Chicago. Dense coastal areas are a source of internal migration, as people seek more space in California’s interior, as well as migration to other states. A third factor is state and local governments’ constant fiscal instability, which sends at least two discouraging messages to businesses and individuals. One is that they cannot count on state and local governments to provide essential services—much less, tax breaks or other incentives. Second, chronically out-of-balance budgets can be seen as tax hikes waiting to happen.

The data also reveal the motives that drive individuals and businesses to leave California. One of these, of course, is work. States with low unemployment rates, such as Texas, are drawing people from California, whose rate is above the national average. Taxation also appears to be a factor, especially as it contributes to the business climate and, in turn, jobs. Most of the destination states favored by Californians have lower taxes. States that have gained the most at California’s expense are rated as having better business climates. The data suggest that many cost drivers—taxes, regulations, the high price of housing and commercial real estate, costly electricity, union power, and high labor costs—are prompting businesses to locate outside California, thus helping to drive the exodus.

Population change, along with the migration patterns that shape it, are important indicators of fiscal and political health. Migration choices reveal an important truth: some states understand how to get richer, while others seem to have lost the touch. California is a state in the latter group, but it can be put back on track. All it takes is the political will.

A pretty fascinating read. And after having listened to sheer fantasies from the likes of Hasan Ikhrata and Karen Warner, along with those who would deny that the economic factors described above are playing a key role, a sobering breathe of fresh air as well.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

71 comments:

  1. The Tattler voters can do their part by voting against candidates who promote this insane path California is on.
    Vote against incumbents or political wonks who support all this pro-development path to bankruptcy of the State and of Sierra Madre.
    Vote against candidates who support horrific projects like SCAG, RHNA, the Pasadena 710 nightmare and have anything connections to the corrupt Sacramento politicians who support these things.
    We can stop this. Help John Crawford get the TRUTH out. Share the Tattler articles with friends and neighbors....who VOTE. We can make a difference.

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    1. Amen. Do not vote for Chris Holden. His evasion on the 710 tunnel is not only wrong, it is also an indication of his complete lack of transparency on all of the issues important to Sierra Madre. I'm voting for Donna Lowe.

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    2. I am also voting for Lowe, because of the 710.
      Hope she doesn't do too much damage on other things.

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    3. Talk about the lessor of 2 evils! I also will be voting for Lowe. ouch.

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    4. There doesn't appear to be any other choice.

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    5. Was it ever thus?

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  2. I agree - I might have voted for Holden, but not after his stand on the 710. Who do we vote for though? It's rather discouraging when none of the state politicians seem to be on our side when it comes to the insane RHNA numbers.

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    1. Yes, I will not be able to vote for Mr. Holden either.
      He has some very shady connections with the Pasadena School Board shenaniganeers. He is too closely connected with that pro 710 farce.
      I was told by a leading citizen here in Sierra Madre who is also a Democrat, that Holden is not someone she will be voting for. That was enough for me.

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    2. I think it would send a message to Sacramento if Holden were defeated. People are fed up with cronyism and insider influence on matters of importance to us all. The results of bad government can be seen everywhere. Holden would only make the situation worse than it already is.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. There are people who can help you. Dial 1-800 I Am Nuts. They're standing by.

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    2. I hope this intervention helped!

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  4. How California 2012. Planning for the kinds of housing that no one prefers or buys, and for people who do not exist. California needs a mental health intervention.

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    1. I think this state has now moved into the realm of fantasy...

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    2. The Tattler got it exactly right - there's no damn accountability.
      The state department of finance can pull figures out of the air and never has to talk about how wrong they are.

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    3. I like how Sacramento always phrases their grubby development deals that they make with lobbyists in such world saving language. In this case it is to help poor immigrants find a place to live. Other times they are saving the world from global warming. They must think we're all idiots.

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    4. All this posturing about "affordable housing" and the greenwashing are just fictional fig leaves to cover the money stream going to developers. Good thing Jerry Brown just stopped the efforts to reinstate those funding streams yesterday, Steinberg and his camp are blasting out emails today.

      This development money is like an addiction. Good Op-Ed in the LAT about what this does by Bill Fulton.

      http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-fulton-california-bankruptcies-sprawl-20121001,0,2800342.story

      However I take issue with his solution to smack everything together in higher densities. Build LESS and the costs of maintenance go down. Parks and playfields rather than empty condos, particularly since we don't have that many people living here anymore, we all know that. The idiots in Sacramento keep trying to flog this one for obvious reasons.

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    5. Reads to me like Fulton has come up with yet another woe that stacking and packing will solve, city budget problems. Guess we will have to add this to the list that includes ends global warming and helps house the hungry hordes on their way to California.

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    6. Bill Fulton sells the party line.

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    7. All the State laws, bonds and financing in California are designed to force development and construction, as Fulton points out. So all this construction popped the bubble, and now it's waves of foreclosures. We're just like Spain's construction bust.

      Go after the bankers for creating this one and then selling the resulting junk to investors. BofA deathwatch now...

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    8. Fulton points that out with one hand, and the other hand is busy writing about ways to increase density.

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  5. Good Story, Sierra Madre is one of the most beautiful cities in CA, insulatated from most of the down the hill problems. Retirees especially should think about leaving. It is scary to think about moving, but scarier to have the corrupt, political climate of CA drain you of whatever vital life essence and money you have left.

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    1. Not insulatated enough.

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  6. When Karen Warner was questioned about the population decrease, she said it wasn't happening, and that 50,000 new people a year (a month?) were coming to California. I think she may have meant immigrants? She also said that the numbers came from the State Department f Finance. They count and tell SCAG what to do.....

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  7. So what's the grim prognosis?
    No water, no money, what then?

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    Replies
    1. An episode of the Twilight Zone.

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    2. More like The Walking Dead.

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  8. Wherever big tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon locate, the reasonable housing units disappear. The reason is the employees at these companies are paid inflated salaries in excess of $100,000 a year and landlords jack up the rents throughout the area. For example the Google campus in Mountain View provides free daily transportation from San Francisco. Mountain View will not allow more housing so thousands of Google employees live in San Francisco. The result is rents are jacked up. $1,600 and up is the going rate for a 300 sq ft studio. The rents in Venice soared when Google recently opened it doors.

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    1. Yep.
      California has always been crazy expensive in the nicer areas, and that is something that is holding true.

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    2. Good point. We need to keep Google and its high paying jobs out of town, just like we did with the high paying oil jobs. That way we can keep the rents low. Onward and downward!

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    3. All we'd have to do is send Google a picture of you brushing your tooth, Adam.

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    4. Supply vs. demand. That's just good ole capitalism.

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    5. maybe we should pass a law that tells google not to pay such "inflated salaries." and then google could have more profits and we could have lower rents. and then we could pass a "too big a profit" tax and take the money from google.

      or we could just cut to the chase and raise taxes on those "inflated salaries." let's call it proposition 30.

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    6. I'll bet Google thanks their lucky stars that there are folks like you looking out for them. No, really!

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    7. Adam, where are you finding those low rents?

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  9. Yes. I have a granny flat!October 1, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    On a closely related topic, I received from the city the "Anonymous Do You Have an Illgeal Granny Flat Survey." Apparently, illegal granny flats in some way count toward our governmental slum creation requirement.

    Now, my first thought was this is a secret way to get granny flat owners to confess, at which point Lisa Volpe swoops in with Officer Berry and takes you away like you were the octogenarian renegade owner of a Tea House.

    Then I thought, wait a minute. I have nothing to fear since I don't own a granny flat. But if I anonymously respond that I do, I could be contributing to Sierra Madre's satisifaction of the the governmental slum housing requirement. So, I think I am going to fill it out and say I have a granny flat.

    And I can't wait to take that bullet train from Palmdale to some unknown spot in the east bay on the way to one of my twice monthly meetings in San Francisco. After all, it will only take three times as long and cost twice as much as flying on Southwest. Boy, are we stupid or what?

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    1. I think what happens is you are granted amnesty because, after all, having a guesthouse on your lot is criminal behavior. Then a couple of days later the building inspector shows up and suddenly you find yourself faced with having to buy a couple thousand dollars worth of building permits. I am not sure that the real reason for all this isn't fund raising.

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    2. Obviously you didn't read the City's letter re: granny flats. This is an amnesty program to register existing units. These units must be brought up to code before they become legal. Just saying you have a second unit will not qualify for our RHNA numbers. I for one am opposed to this program. This is the second time illegal units have been grandfathered and just rewards residents to build willy-nilly without any reprecussions.

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    3. I knew it was a trick! Like the time that "escort" told me she really was not a police officer. And the time I answered the "you won the lotto" notice and was arrested on a child support warrant.

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    4. You have to watch out for City Hall. They are a very expensive date.

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    5. So you get amnesty on permits for your granny flat. Do you also get amnesty on a property tax increase when the county discovers you have additional buildings on your property?

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    6. Once you are out in the open who knows what will happen. My guess is it will involve a lot of money out of your pocket. You practically have to pay an air tax to breathe in this town.

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    7. i will freely admit ignorance here, but it seems to me that if you have unpermitted structures on your property and then you get amnesty- or not- then you have just increased your taxable square footage by the current property tax rate. Am I totally misunderstanding this? It also seems that if your square footage increases, then you may need to have to install a fire sprinkler system, too. If your water pressure can't support that, you will need some plubing work done, too, hence more permits. I am sure I am misunderstanding something, right?

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    8. and if the amnest is shut down on you, does that mean your property may have exceded the allowable square footage on a lot the size your house is on? If not, will you need to apply for a variance? if it is denied, do you have to remove the strucure?

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    9. tb @5:37, yes, yes, yes.

      Think the program will be a productive use of city time and money?

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  10. 12:48 if you have a second unit, don't you think you should have to pay property tax on that? After all, legalized second units increase property values. Unless that part of your gain when you sell, you were going to mail into the City.

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    1. That is not the problem. The difficulty is if your 2nd unit is not up to code, you will be required to make that happen. Which takes it from a funky place to store your rakes, Christmas ornaments and mother-in-law to a major investment. You have to wonder just how many people are willing to go to all of that expense.

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    2. It will be quite interesting to hear in the appropriate City Manager's report how many people have applied for the Amnesty Program.

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  11. The Granny Flat registration was indeed put in place to help satisfy RHNA requirements, to demonstrate that low income housing was available, that we don't have to stack and pack quite as much.
    However, and it's a big however
    If the Granny Flat had an address as of the census in 2000, it doesn't qualify.
    Most of the Granny Flats, or Mother-in-law units, that I know of in town, were built in the 20's, 30's and 40's, so they will have existed in previous census records, and are no help.

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    1. There should be NO requirement by the State to force people to build "low income" housing. This is very wrong.

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    2. What usually happens is that during the planning and approval stages the housing in question is low income. But when it finally goes up for sale it is at market value.

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    3. The most that most developers will agree to is a one year covenant at low income.
      Then good times and the sky's the limit!

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  12. FYI: Tonight, Pasadena City Hall. Agendized: #9. looks like after the 7:00 hour. Might be of interest to y'all.
    http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/councilagendas/2012%20agendas/Oct_01_12/agenda.asp

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    1. think- What does PUSD interests have to do with property-

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    2. PUSD is the largest property owner in Pasadena, btw

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    3. Seems we may have solved the granny problem.....

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    4. I think grannies should be trained in the use of firearms.

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  13. Amnesty. As in forgiveness. Amensty/forgiveness offered to property owners who have a "granny flat" for coming forward and declaring they have such a structure. The next logical step is to tax the granny flat. And, for all undeclared granny flats it would be what? Tear them down as nonconforming? There can be no good answer to the question of amnesty. The property owner loses in either case. BTW, does the city offered amnesty also extend to State and Federal amnesty for income taxes as a result of the rental of said granny flat?

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    1. Does not the community lose when the property owner cheats by building their own 'stack n' pack' illegal structures? There are plenty of shoddy sub-code eyesores in this town. More likely than not they are potential fire hazards, suffering from poor design and aesthetics.

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    2. Old towns will have some strange structures.
      If you want squeaky clean, head to one of the Disney communities in Florida.
      No variation from the rules there.

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    3. Some people actually prefer Stepford. Why they are in Sierra Madre is a mystery.

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    4. Ah, but there are plans afoot to remake Sierra Madre into something, well, better. Get rid of you shabby poor people, you uninspiring old people, knock down those little abodes and erect something worthwhile. More upscale quaint please, like some big faux Victorian mansions with wine cellars.

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  14. who cares anymore

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    1. Open your heart and feel the love.

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  15. Some people do. For others it is like slowing down to look at a car wreck.

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  16. Because none of the long standing 2nd units can be counted, and it'll only be people who built things on the sly in the last 12 years, and they could have to spend far more than they bring in to get up to code, I'd say the Granny Flat program is a bust.

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  17. Keep in mind the source publication. The Manhattan Institute is a conservative think tank founded by an ex CIA boss who was Reagan's campaign manager.

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    1. Don't forget that the head of SCAG, Hasan Ikhrata, was at one time a planner in the old Soviet Union. Which I guess means that the cold war is now being fought in the planning departments of City Halls.

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    2. Is there an amnesty for fallout shelters?

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  18. I heard John noguez give a lecture (before he got himself in trouble) that the assessor's office uses google street view to look for illegal structures and additions.

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    1. They'd be foolish not to.

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