Califronia housing boom deters outstate labor

The high cost of housing is a key factor in why California -long the destination of workers seeking a brighter future -is having increasing difficulty attracting qualified labor.

That's a main finding in a housing report issued by the California Roundtable , composed of chief executives of 100 leading companies in the state.

The report noted that migration from other states to California is once again beginning to taper off (it fell steadily from 1963 to 1972) and that a continuation "would inhibit the future ability of California industries to respond to strong national and international demand for our products."

High price tags on homes pose a serious threat to continued economic growth by forcing first-time home buyers out of the market and curtailing the mobility of California's work force, according to the report. Inflation and the resulting high interest rates were mentioned by Robert R. Dockson, chairman of the task force compiling the report, as putting the clamps on vital new housing.

The task force said the state faces a housing shortage of about 200,000 units.

Separately, economists at Bank of America, San Francisco, estimate that sales of existing and new housing this year will sink to about 325,000 units, from 420 ,000 last year, compared with a yearly average of half a million in the past decade. Bank of America expects total residential sales next year to bounce back to 410,000 units, just below the 1980 level, with new units accounting for 150, 000 of the total (compared with an estimated 125,000 this year and an average of 200,000 a year during the 1970s).

The bank said the 1982 median home price in California will surpass the national figure by 50 percent. This means that buying an average-priced home would require a household income of $45,000 to qualify for a loan.

To spur housing activity, the California Roundtable recommended action in several areas.

It called for greater land availability, saying that much of the existing land shortage has been artificially created by "excessive local government demands and inappropriate space and density zoning." It suggested public lands be reevaluated "to see if some portion of these properties could be used for housing."

Overall costs associated with development, the group noted, could be reduced substantially by cutting time and procedural steps involved in permit processing. Other areas the report listed where improvements can be made: expanding housing finance -maybe through legislation allowing state pension funds to increase direct investment in home loans -and streamlining restrictive planning and environmental regulations. TOverall costs associated with development, the group noted, could be reduced substantially by cutting time and procedural steps involved in permit processing. Other areas the report listed where improvements can be made: expanding housing finance -maybe through legislation allowing state pension funds to increase direct investment in home loans -and streamlining restrictive planning and environmental regulations.

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