Light Touch Density: The Key to Stopping the Tide of Departing Californians
As the median home price has crept over $800,000, the benefits of living in California no longer outweigh the costs for an increasing number of Californians. Since 1990, more than 3.8 million people have left the state than have moved in—slightly less than the total population of the city of Los Angeles. According to the IRS, net domestic and foreign outmigration increased in 2020 to over 263,000, up from just under 168,000 in 2019. To keep the workers who keep its cities running, California needs more naturally affordable housing. To this end, the American Enterprise Institute is hosting a series of conferences throughout California to discuss how cities can create affordable and economically vibrant neighborhoods where families can put down roots.
California’s ability to remain economically competitive, fund quality public services, and maintain livable communities will be compromised if the state is unable to retain residents that wish to stay. By implementing Light Touch Density — the development of single-family homes with 1 to 4 units — housing can be built that stems the migration tide. According to a recent AEI study, as the number of housing units per acre built increases, the cost of those individual housing units decreases, directly easing cost of living concerns for those considering departing for more affordable regions.
A better future for California requires more economical housing and the recently passed SB 9 and 10 are a course correction. Please Join AEI September 19-23 to learn how you and your community can take actionable steps to address California’s housing crisis through SB 9, SB 10, and Light Touch Density.
Together our team hopes to leverage AEI’s granular and sophisticated data tools that localities, policymakers, and advocates can utilize to address the housing shortage in their communities. In conjuncture with the upcoming conferences, AEI released a free Housing and Economic Analysis Toolkit (HEAT) to help inform local policymakers, interested groups, and citizens across California on how to implement achievable solutions that increase housing with a “light touch.” We are looking to bring our message of Light Touch Density to cities across California to help put homeownership within reach for Californians feeling the squeeze of rising house prices and rents.
Our work studying SB 9 and SB 10 is generously supported by a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about our research, feel free to browse our work on Light Touch Density (LTD) (including ADUs) and Walkable Oriented Development (WOD).
- LTD: To view the new Housing Center eBook Light Touch Density: A Series of Policy Briefs on Zoning, Land Use, and a Solution to Help Alleviate the Nation’s Housing Shortage, click here. The eBook is free. We define LTD as housing including detached single-family houses with accessory dwelling units (ADUs), small-lot single-family houses, attached single-family houses, and duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes. Note: chapter 4 relates to ADUs).
- WOD: We have also created an interactive Walkable Oriented Development map designed to work in conjunction with LTD. The WOD map details 23,000 WODs across the United States. WOD are walkable areas within a 10 minute walk of a core set of existing commercial amenities. About 20% of all housing units are within WOD areas. By enacting LTD zoning in WOD areas, both urban and rural communities can meaningfully increase housing supply, enhance the vibrancy of their commercial districts, and boost property tax revenues.
- HEAT: AEI released a free Housing and Economic Analysis Toolkit (HEAT) to help inform local policymakers, interested groups and citizens across California on how to implement achievable solutions that increase housing with a “light touch.” HEAT compiles the Housing Center’s data products on LTD into one easy-to-use interface.
For more information and to RSVP for any conference, click here.