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Increased Density’s New Foe

Housing density—what was once hailed as a possible solution to California's affordability woes—may see growing skepticism due to the impacts of the COVID-19, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

The report from the Los Angeles Times said New York City, the nation’s densest city, is the hotbed of the coronavirus outbreak with more than 150,000 confirmed cases and more than 11,000 deaths. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has blamed high-rise apartment complexes and busy subways for the city’s issues. 

“Why are we seeing this level of infection? Why cities across the country? It’s very simple. It’s about density,” Cuomo said at a recent news conference

Cuomo added that “the dense environments are its feeding grounds.”

The report adds that speculation about how dense neighborhoods may have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 will affect debates on growth. 

“Moving from cities dominated by single-family homes toward those with townhomes, apartments and even high-rises would allow for new housing to accommodate job growth without gobbling up outlying areas prone to wildfires and straining water resources,” the Los Angeles Times said. 

California’s battle with housing affordability took a hit in January, when Senate Bill 50, which aimed to increase housing density and supply, failed to receive the 21 necessary votes to reach the State Assembly. 

This is the third consecutive year this legislation stalled on the Senate floor. Senate Bill 50 failed passage by three votes. 

The bill would have allowed homeowners to convert a garage, office, or spare room into living quarters. The new legislation also had a provision for allowing three homes on land previously zoned for single-family. 

In March, San Francisco’s Proposition E, which would cap office development if affordable housing measures are not met, passed by 55% to 45% margin. 

San Francisco currently has a cap of 875,000-square-feet of office development annually, due to 1986’s Proposition M. 

However, if San Francisco misses affordable housing targets by 10% annually, the existing office-space cap would fall 10% next year.

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.
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