Attention fans of a big construction boom to fix for Orange County’s housing problems: Even renters don’t think that’s the best solution.
That’s the conclusion I drew after looking at a survey of 706 Orange County renters and homeowners by researchers at Chapman University.
Slow-growth sentiment is typically popular with homeowners who think it’s the best way to preserve the value of their properties. But the surveyed renters had similar concerns even as the state grapples with limited housing supply and affordability.
I must admit that surprised me. I had the opportunity to provide input to the poll’s coordinator, Chapman professor Fred Smoller, on the housing questions asked. I never expected to see that 79 percent of renters polled said they prefer less development vs. more — a higher slow-growth view than even homeowners (62 percent).
Forget my own predictive flub. Policymakers and business leaders should take keen note of these attitudes if they want to make any real progress on housing issues.
Look, the financial pain is real. The poll showed Orange County’s high price of housing is a serious problem for 51 percent of renters, and even 22 percent of financially better-off owners. Note that 24 percent of renters told pollsters they had a problem paying for housing in the past year as well as 7 percent of owners.
So, it’s seemingly logical for the population, especially tenants, to want more housing that, in theory, would lower the cost of a roof over one’s head, right?
Well, hope springs eternal in Orange County. A noteworthy number of Orange Countians says their financial situation has gotten better: Owners, 40 percent; renters 35 percent. And tenants are more upbeat about life “three or four years down the road,” with 60 percent of renters forecasting their finances will improve along with 40 percent of owners.
And please note that more rentals apparently won’t cut it. At least as a “dream” solution.
When asked “what type of residence would you prefer to live in?” the pollsters found just 13 percent of renters (and 2 percent of owners) said “apartment.” And look at it this way: 87 percent of owners and 60 percent of renters said it’s important to own a residence.
Plus, current apartment dwellers don’t relish the prospect of unfettered construction: 79 percent of renters polled side with land-use planning over developer’s freedom to build. That’s a higher slow-growth approval than the 63 percent of homeowners who felt the same way.
Perhaps these emotions can be explained by “green” sentiments: 71 percent of renters said strict environmental laws “are worth the cost”; 59 percent of owners felt the same.
The poll suggests there’s more support for housing-cost containment by:
Implementing rent control regulations (65 percent approval from renters; 54 percent from owners).
More government spending on fighting poverty (65 percent approval from renters; 54 percent from owners).
Adding a quarter-cent sales tax in Orange County, similar to one passed in Los Angeles, to finance homelessness cures (65 percent approval from renters; 54 percent from owners).
Let’s applaud the notion that Orange County residents are far more politically and economically nuanced than they’re given credit for. If you look at political leanings of people polled, three-quarters designated themselves as either “middle of the road” to “somewhat” liberal or conservative. Renters were a tad more liberal; owners, a pinch more conservative.
And this apparent call for more measured fixes to what’s called by some a “housing crisis” can also be tied to an overall appreciation of what Orange County offers in return for its sky-high cost of living.
Forget all the public complaining about Orange County. Poll respondents gave the county good grades for livability, citing it as “excellent” or “good place” to live (84 percent owners; 71 percent renters). And 96 percent of owners and
77 percent of renters were satisfied with their current housing arrangement.
Now that’s not a blind attraction as roughly 1-in-3 folks polled saw a decline in the local quality of life with similar-sized fears that trend could continue. And 9 percent of renters (and 1 percent of owners) were VERY unsatisfied with Orange County life.
So complacency is not a good option. The poll reveals a hefty class of folks who are considering bolting from Orange County.
Clearly, locals are conflicted. Housing’s monetary burden is creating relocation thoughts, with 49 percent of renters saying they’re contemplating a move out of Orange County vs. 22 percent of owners. And 29 percent of renters and
15 percent of owners are thinking about leaving California.
Now I often hear “I can’t wait to leave” threats. But population stats say that’s more bluster than reality.
And any substantial exodus from Orange County would certainly boost housing options for those who choose to stay.
see original article here: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/05/even-orange-county-renters-dont-want-a-building-boom/