Future of SoCal's traffic and affordable housing crises tackled in SoCal leaders summit

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Friday, December 6, 2019
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A summit of Southern California leaders sought to tackle the issues of expensive housing and traffic congestion as they plan for the region's future.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- They are the issues that experts say define Southern California: traffic and more and more expensive housing. They could threaten our future.

"Affordable housing is about workforce housing. If we can't afford to keep our workforce here we're gonna lose talent and jobs are going to follow them to where those people can afford to live," says Kome Ajise, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments

SCAG held a summit Thursday to discuss the challenges that face the area.

After the great recession home prices dropped and by 2011 the median price for an existing home was $312,000. Prices have jumped since then and now it's almost $600,000.

"Home prices have gone up so much that people are voting with their feet and leaving. People are leaving and employers are moving jobs out of the area," said Matthew Fienup from the Cal Lutheran Center for Economic Research.

Those who stay in the area sometimes have to live far away from where they work. That's where the long commutes and traffic become another issue. That hurts the environment and the overall quality of life.

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago from Los Angeles says there needs to be an new approach.

"People cannot afford the rent, they cannot afford a mortgage. They need to drive one to two hours and I think we need to just build on the momentum of breaking down every obstacle to build the affordable housing that people need," Santiago said.

Economists say California is not seen as business-friendly with a lot of regulations but they are starting to see some changes.

Experts say the issues of housing and transportation need to be addressed in the next 5 to 10 years. They say it's the only way they say to attract and keep a stable workforce.