Housing Permits Over Time: Comparing California to other Populous States

California continues to struggle to permit housing at the level necessary due to a lack of land zoned at the appropriate density, a process that is burdensome and encourages litigation and hard costs, and materials and labor that make it prohibitively costly and burdensome to develop housing.

Data released from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permits Survey show that per million people, California permits fewer housing units per million people than other populous states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida, but permits slightly more than Massachusetts and New York. In 2020, California permitted just over 2,600 units per million people compared to Texas – which permitted almost three times as much.


Key Findings:

To address our severe housing shortage, the Bay Area Council continues to advance innovative, actionable solutions to address these old, persistent problems that impede development. This includes state laws the organization has sponsored that have spurred Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) development, reformed the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process to make the housing obligation calculated for cities more accurate, streamlined development of housing at BART stations, and required localities to comply with housing laws. The Bay Area Council is continuing this work this year through the sponsorship of AB 561 (Ting) to create bridge loans for the construction of ADUs and AB 1174 (Grayson) to clarify the law on streamlining housing development established through SB 35. Stay up to date with advocacy work on housing here.