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Californians favor rent control over new construction, says poll

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LA Times reveals only 13 percent of state residents think California should build more

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Why are homes in California so expensive? It’s not because there aren’t enough of them, according to a new poll by USC Dornsife and the LA Times, which found that only a handful of Californians believe insufficient supply is to blame, while more than twice as many blame lack of rent control.

The survey, conducted between September 17 and October 14 of this year, quizzed 1,180 state residents and asked them to opine what is causing the housing crisis. Here are the results:

  • Lack of rent control: 28 percent
  • Lack of low-income housing funding: 24 percent
  • Foreign buyers: 16 percent
  • Influence of tech: 15 percent
  • Lack of homebuilding: 13 percent
  • Wall Street buyers: 10 percent

When asking the same of those who consider themselves “likely voters,” the impetus for more building creeps up a little higher, but not by much:

  • Lack of rent control: 28 percent
  • Lack of low-income housing funding: 24 percent
  • Influence of tech: 16 percent
  • Foreign buyers: 15 percent
  • Lack of homebuilding: 15 percent
  • Wall Street buyers: 10 percent

More than anything else, the Californians polled are likely to lament the lack of rent control and subsidized housing, whereas there does not appear to be much appetite for building more.

In the Bay Area, “lack of building” ranked worse, with only 10 percent bringing it up. But “lack of rent control” is also a much less popular choice in the Bay Area, netting 13 percent.

The most oft-cited catalyst locally: “Influence of tech” with 26 percent, the only region in the state where a plurality of people put the blame on tech.

Photo by JorisB1995

In a related phenomena, the poll also found that only 31 percent of those asked want the state to exert more control over housing policy, while 69 percent prefer local control.

While probably frustrating for the YIMBY crowd, what the LA Times/USC findings reveal more than anything is that people in the state—or at least those people surveyed—don’t agree on anything when it comes to the housing situation.

Proposition 10, the ballot initiative that could expand rent control in California cities, did much better in this poll than in previous ones, with 41 percent of likely voters saying they favor it, versus 38 percent against.

With Bay Area voters specifically, the figures were 41 percent in favor versus 36 percent against.

Many polls conducted show Proposition 10 getting killed, including a new Public Policy Institute of California [PPIC] poll noting that, although rent control is a popular prospect with those surveyed, voters still don’t seem to support overturning Costa-Hawkins.

“Is this a case of confusing ballot language? Or are voters simply not interested in this particular approach to rent control?” wonders PPIC’s Dean Bonner.

For more analysis of the LA Times-USC poll results, go here. For the full raft of figures, go here.