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LandWatch Research Reveals Issues
Dear Melanie; 

Housing policy and the provision of affordable housing have been among LandWatch’s top priorities since our founding in 1997. Last year we began to collect data on housing in Monterey County in order to better understand what we can do to address the critical shortage of affordable and workforce housing. Today we “launch” our housing project with a series of emails. In an aim to make the work “digestible,” each email will cover a fairly narrow housing topic. The first one will address the questions:
  1. How much housing currently exists (and where);
  2. How much affordable housing exists (and where); and
  3. How do jurisdictions compare in terms of absolute and relative numbers in the amount of affordable housing they provide.
Here’s the data. It reveals the following:
  • There is wide variation in how much affordable housing each jurisdiction provides as a percentage of total housing.
  • Greenfield provides the most affordable housing as a percentage of total housing.
  • Del Rey Oak and Pacific Grove provide the least.
But the research has also revealed some other interesting findings:
  • Housing data are messy and dispersed. There is no central database of housing and affordable housing. From what we gather, there is no state requirements to track affordable housing, and no legal enforcement if it isn’t provided (though housing grants can be curtailed).
  • “Affordability” isn’t consistently defined across jurisdictions, making it difficult to compare across jurisdictions. Some local governments require affordable housing to be maintained permanently; others only require it for 50 to 75 years. After that, it becomes market-rate housing, and the last owner gains a windfall profit.
  • It’s not unusual for local governments to lose track of inclusionary affordable housing requirements. For the County and some cities there seem to be poor or no mechanisms for tracking affordable over time.
  • Nonprofit providers seem to be the only guarantors of long-term affordable housing. They maintain good records, and in most (not all) cases have clear missions to provide permanently affordable housing. 
It’s important to note that while we contacted every jurisdiction prior to releasing this information not every one validated its housing data. I therefore expect that some of the data may change. For the jurisdictions that didn’t respond – and they’re noted in the data table – I invite our members to ask their local elected representatives for their help in reviewing and validating it.

In examining housing prices, supply is clearly an issue. But so is demand. What drives demand for housing in Monterey County? Jobs, second (vacation) homes, investment homes, and other market forces. In a follow-up email, we’ll examine the question: where are the jobs in Monterey County, and where is there imbalance between housing and jobs?


Michael D. DeLapa
Executive Director,
LandWatch Monterey County
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