California’s highest-profile gubernatorial candidate is heralding the virtues of supply-side economics in a yet-to-be-released plan to make housing more affordable in California. The Olympian Caitlyn Jenner wants to make it far easier, cheaper, and quicker for developers to bring new housing units into the State’s housing market through a slew of regulatory reforms on everything from land-use laws, environmental reviews, public comment periods, and historic preservation protections.
Jenner believes that the only way to reduce rents is to very significantly increase the supply of housing units, in order to alleviate demand pressures. With a significant influx of new luxury units at the high-end, market prices for existing units will fall, making the State a more affordable place to live within a short number of years.
Among the reforms will be a State-mandated rezoning of a transit-privileged swath of the City of San Francisco, from South of Market to the Mission District, where density limits, historic preservation ordinances, and City-imposed roadblocks on new residential skyscrapers will be effectively lifted. That new “Special Zoning District” will allow the State of California to lift the discriminatory ‘housing supply cap’ that has effectively been institutionalized by Democratic Party politicians at San Francisco City Hall.
“Jenner wants the City’s skyline to flourish,” one political staffer explains. “A building boom will be good for developers, for renters, for workers, and for housing affordability across the Bay area.”
Sources familiar with the plan say that it will include landmark investments in infrastructure designed to enable higher-density transit-oriented housing development, particularly in the Los Angeles metropolitan area where mass transit infrastructure is lacking and automobile dependence is high — both of which constrict developers’ ability to bring new housing units into high-demand neighborhoods. Commitments will include $30 billion to construct more than 300-miles of new elevated monorails in and around the City of Los Angeles.
More than $10 billion will be made available for new water and sewer infrastructure in areas that are geographically and environmentally suitable to accommodate new housing development. Much of that funding will be allocated to enable the Los Angeles metropolitan area to sprawl beyond the Angeles National Forest, and toward the broad expanses of the Mojave Desert.
Jenner is expected to task a network of researchers at the University of California and CalTech to perfect water desalination technology, with the objective of enabling the State to source, process, and purify ocean water efficiently at scale — both for agricultural use and drinking water. She plans to appropriate up to $5 billion to fund that research.
“When water desalination technology becomes deployable at scale, we will be able to literally irrigate the desert,” Jenner plans to say in prepared remarks. “This vital research will alleviate so much of the environmental pressure we are putting on the environment. We need new suburban housing to lower housing costs, but we can’t build it because our water situation is so untenable.”
Among the policy document’s more ambitious visions is the formation of an engineering task force that will study the viability of drilling underground aqueducts between the Pacific Ocean to low-lying valleys of the Mojave, which Jenner envisions as future Oasis-like flood plains.