A Glaring Symptom of California’s Unsustainable Population Growth

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CAPS staff - blogs and news stories on relevant topics.
December 10, 2018
 
The population of California has been growing at unsustainable levels for decades. Now, at nearly 40 million residents, the Golden State is witnessing a housing shortage exacerbated by the most destructive wildfires in California’s history.

Sky-high prices and housing shortages in California are no secret. According to the California Association of Realtors, the median price for a home in California now exceeds $600,000. And, it’s not just home price that are high, the rental market is among the most expensive in the U.S.

At least 30 percent of households in every part of California--and in some places 60%--can't afford local rents. Enter the most destructive wildfires in California’s history.

Wildfires that swept through California this past Fall exposed just how fragile the housing market is, and how great the demand for more housing has become.

The Los Angeles Times documented the problem in a recent piece:
"Northern California’s recent wildfires have burned homes at a greater pace than developers are building them, deepening a housing shortage that already has left millions struggling to find affordable places to live.

Five large wildfires over the past 14 months, with November’s Camp fire the most devastating, have destroyed nearly 21,000 homes across six counties. That total is equivalent to more than 85% of all the new housing built in those counties over the past decade, according to Construction Industry Research Board building permit statistics."
As lawmakers grapple with ways to address both California’s housing crisis and wildfires the underlying problem, unsustainable population growth, cannot be ignored.

CBS News documented the issue in a recent piece.
“...people are encroaching on once sparsely populated areas more vulnerable to fires. Across the country the number of homes on the wildland-urban interface has increased dramatically. A recent study in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences illustrates the encroachment issue: "Within the perimeter of recent wildfires (1990-2015), there were 286,000 houses in 2010, compared with 177,000 in 1990." High populations mean a higher propensity for fires to be started in those forested areas. This is the direct human element."

For decades California has tried to treat the symptoms of its housing crisis by building more homes and urban development, rather than addressing the problem of unsustainable population growth fueled by mass immigration.

As a result, California now has 8 out of 10 of the most polluted cities in America and a wildfire epidemic that is only making the problem worse.

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