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The New California Homeless: From American Dream To Poverty & Tyranny

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024 - 09:40 PM

Authored by Roger Canfield via The Epoch Times,

The once richest state in economic opportunity and liberties has become the poorest state in the nation and one of the least free states in America. (Tyranny competing with New York.)

How?

There is a total war on private homeownership, family cars, freeways, and liberty, moving millions of Californians from freedom to dependency to tyranny.

Authoritarian California laws work tirelessly to drive people out of the mobility and safety of their family cars and their family homes—into concrete cells in high density, high tower apartments, public housing, public transit, and ultimately homelessness.

In 2023–2024, a package of bills allegedly dealing with “affordable” housing were passed and signed into law. Instead, these bills advanced expensive taxpayer-subsidized public housing by other names. What was missing was any increase in the free-market supply of single-family homes. Gone was the prospect of the American dream continuing to prosper in California.

How did California get to where it is now?

It was a long way and a long time coming.

It started well and ended badly.

What California Once Was

California, the forever beacon of wealth from whales to cattle to gold to timber to technology, was always welcoming new immigrants to new opportunities.

For hundreds of years Spaniards, Mexicans, and Americans came to California from the south and the east seeking economic opportunity and social equality as well as sunshine and mild winters.

After World War II, the GI Bill, affordable home mortgages, and visionaries built new housing tracts for returning veterans relocated from less comfortable climes and their fixed parochial cultures of the Midwest and the East Coast. Cynics made fun of the “ticky-tacky” tract homes depriving the “deplorable” souls who lived there of the pleasures of their own hearths and homes.

Bipartisan visionaries also built highways, rapidly linking housing tracts to jobs.

It took decades to halt the upwardly mobile from acquiring homes, cars, and jobs.

Eventually, California went from an opportunity society—from blue collar—to white collar in one generation, and then to no collar. It went from widespread prosperity to poorest in the nation in supplies of housing and energy.

Really, what needs to be fixed?

Housing Shortage

According to Hans Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), California has a housing shortage of 3.5 million housing units. That’s for a population of 40 million.

In September 2023, the Orange County Register reported that California’s largest cities, metropolitan areas, were short by over 800,000 units. This 6.5 percent housing shortage was twice the national average.

With a median home value of $900,000 in 2024, California’s “young”—including 40-to-50-year-olds—cannot afford what few homes are available. And there was no respite in renting. The smallest apartments often cost more than the massive mortgages for which few could qualify.

Legislation in 2023 to 2024, establishing Below Market Rate (BMR) housing, was rent control by other names.

For decades, rent control and limits on evictions have discouraged private construction of apartments in California—so unions can do it at high expense, serving the millions who need housing that’s more affordable than an old car or Mommy’s bedroom.

Homelessness

Besides mental illness, disease, and drug addiction, the decades-long slow-motion moratorium on building housing has contributed at least in part to the violent deaths of the homeless, out in the open and vulnerable to human predators, as well as medieval diseases.

Homelessness in California does not stop with drug addicts, the mentally ill, the diseased, and the poor. It ends up on your doorstep and/or your neighbors’.

Welcome to the New Homeless Californians—children and grandchildren living in old cars, rundown trailer parks, sky-high concrete box apartments, Mommy’s spare bedroom, furnished garages, or backyard spaces under tiny roofs.

Meanwhile, hotel rooms are offered to illegal immigrants. Our children and vets need not apply.

Who Is Next?

But for Proposition 13’s limits on annual increases on property taxes, grandparents might be joining their progeny on the sidelines of society. Nearly half of California’s homeless are over 50 years old.

Though it’s difficult for older folks, those who can escape from California for the less comfortable climes of baking deserts or steamy states, are doing so. The vacancies left by escapees add little to solve shortages of affordable housing.

Indeed, California’s relative population loss in the 2020 census dictated a first-ever loss in representation in the U.S. Congress.

What can people do to continue living in family homes? The most affordable housing is located miles and hours away from jobs.

Commute Marathons

Thousands of Californians drive for hours from affordable homes in faraway suburbia, in San Bernardino-Riverside and the Central Valley, to urban jobs in Los Angeles and San Francisco-San Jose, respectively.

They commute two or three hours a day from the Central Valley to the Bay Area; 80,000 drive over the Altamont Pass to and from San Joaquin County and the Bay Area. Seventy-five percent drive alone to jobs in San Jose, Fremont, or Pleasanton.

Virtually none, 2.5 to 3 percent, take public transit, a bus, or a train.

How Did This Happen?

Local government building codes prevent families from building modest housing for their elderly parents or children on their own private property.

Laws reduce private homeownership, highways, and cars—and instead substitute public transit and public housing. They limit suburban growth and the number of cars and highways getting people to and from home and work. This reduces the liberties and choices of citizens.

So most housing shortages and long commutes are the direct result of public policies intended to eliminate “sprawling” suburbs with their “ticky-tacky” housing tracts. Low to no parking compels you to “choose” to give up your car too.

Reducing Housing

The high building fees, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and other environmental policies have driven housing prices sky-high and caused housing supplies to be far short of what’s needed.

Building fees reach $50,000 before a single shovel breaks ground on a single-family home.

The net result of the environmental assault on affordable housing and highways is more greenhouse gas emissions from auto emissions—longer commutes and traffic congestion.

Legislation in 2023 to 2024 exempted CEQA requirements but added others, producing up to 40 percent more expensive “prevailing [union] wage” constructed housing; in effect, public housing. Those over 50 units required union-sanctioned apprenticeship training and health care. Educational and religious institutions were mandated to provide social services—childcare and community centers for mere handfuls of tenants.

Public Housing

There is also the return of discredited public housing “projects,” high-rise Soviet and Beijing style.

High-density housing promotes crime, social disorder, and disease. Life mimics rats in cages, filthy and frightened with lives that are cruel, nasty, and short.

San Diego’s 50-story residential tower will likely lack thug-free elevators.

In June 2024, Senate Bill 469, which would have permitted public housing projects without voter approval, was dropped.

Bad Roads

California’s potholes compete with those of Bangladesh and New York’s West Side Highway. Bad roads destroy evil automobiles.

From 1990 to 2019, the State of California in Proposition 111, SB-1, and Proposition 69 heavily taxed gasoline, cars, and trucks, promising to build and repair long lists of roads and bridges in return.

In 2018, Proposition 6 sought to rescind the latest gas tax theft. An opposition political campaign said that unsafe bridges would go unrepaired and kill people if the taxes were repealed. Taxpayers supported keeping high gas taxes to build desperately needed roads and bridges.

Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said it was all a smoke screen written in disappearing ink.

California has the nation’s highest “gas pump” gasoline taxes per gallon, e.g., “cap and trade” tax on top of gasoline tax per gallon.

In October 2019, gasoline was a full dollar per gallon above the national average. By 2024, the difference approached two dollars per gallon.

Similarly, drivers pay ever-increasing bridge tolls, decades after the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge bonds were paid off in 1971.

Highway users pay for the benefits they were promised—a fair tax, an honest tax. They have paid high taxes for worse than nothing.

Though long planned and promised, very few roads and bridges are built. State Senator and accountant John Moorlach said that California diverted 80 percent of bonds to other purposes over three decades.

Grand Theft Auto

Gas taxes and highway bonds to build “freeways” and bridges are stolen to subsidize public transit no one rides very far—empty trains, light rail, Amtrak, and buses.

High taxes on gasoline, coupled with bad roads and stolen revenue, are grand theft auto. By 2018, only optimists would say California had the ninth worst highways.

The offered alternative was worse.

California pays registered owners to get “clunker” cars—affordable transportation—off its roads and get onto public transit.

Public Transit

Since 1965, Los Angeles has been seeking mass rapid public transit. In 2024, public transit is routinely claimed to reduce congestion, though it carries only 3 percent or so of all passenger traffic in California.

Command and control of autos does nothing about traffic congestion. However, it does drive citizens out of their cars into cattle cars rife with crime.

The push for higher-density housing seeks to sustain public transit, which 80 to 95 percent of urbanites avoid if they can. Converting entire residential neighborhoods into multi-family lots would destroy proud old neighborhoods of family and friends.

Private cabs and Ubers competing with public transit are overregulated.

Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled

Policies have aimed to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as a means of saving planet earth from climate change (whether cold or hot).

Policy progress is measured by cars not owned and commuter vehicle miles not traveled.

Making suburban housing unaffordable and unreachable is helpful in reducing miles traveled. Do not build the houses and highways, and they will not come and go.

Boutique Gasoline

California insists on having its own seasonal blends of gasoline.

The replacement blends contain ethanol made from corn, and they faithfully continue to reduce VMT per gallon. More gallons must be burned to equal the mileage of ordinary gasoline.

Killing Competition Drives Gasoline Prices Higher

Boutique gasoline drove 10 older oil refineries out of business from 1985 to 1995. In 1982, the state had 30 gasoline-producing refineries. There were 11 to 14 by various counts in 2015 to 2023.

Due to efforts to eliminate leaking gasoline tanks, California regulated big oil and little oil gasoline stations. Independent station owners could not afford the years of delay and millions of dollars to replace older tanks. Facing bankruptcy, small businesses quit.

Driven out of business, independents became only 15 percent of 10,000 California stations.

By 2024, no California Energy Commission statistics on independent gasoline stations could be found on its website. They were well hidden or disappeared from history.

While heavy metals and solvent-borne petroleum oils smell bad, there is little evidence that their concentration in water is a health risk when they are measured in parts per billion and trillion.

The independent gasoline stations once competed on gasoline prices with Big Oil. Gasoline was 25 cents a gallon in 1960. With independents still in business, gasoline might have been about $2.15 in 2019.

As for housing, the answer is supply. That requires free market competition—deregulation.

And a last hope, other than escaping California in an expensive U-Haul trailer, is a voter revolt like those that have occurred in parental rights and school choice and the one that is impending in recriminalization of crime in our stores and on our streets.

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