Transit Updates and Rising Housing Costs in the Inland Empire

By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director

I want to let all of our regular readers know that I haven't forgotten about you. Basically, I've got to practice what I preach on this blog regarding spending time with family and doing your best at work. Both have kept me on my feet and busy.

Okay. I've have a few Transit Talking Points lined up for the next couple weeks. Plus, I was able to network with a transit rider in the Corona area regarding his views of the Riverside Transit Agency's 10-Year Transit Network Plan for the entire system. The rider had some very good bus routing ideas but didn't have a forum to make them known. The official comment period took place last year but as I've stated countless times here, "public hearings" don't close here. Plus, he has some ideas to improve the Corona Cruiser bus system. I'll have the piece put together soon on that in its full context. Stay tuned.

High Speed Rail Funding

I'm also continuing to monitor the progress of getting private funding toward California's High Speed Rail master plan. I think this is perhaps the only way the network is going to get funded and supported. Hopefully this should create some kind of common ground between the advocates and the dissenters. Since many opponents don't want massive sums of public dollars to be spent directly on the project, partnerships with the marketplace to get the train lines funded and built could be the very way to go in my opinion. Don't forget that there is a branch that is proposed to run through the Inland Empire between LA and San Diego.

Rising Housing Costs

The other major story that is unfolding is housing infrastructure all over Southern California is generally continuing to fail to keep up with growing demands. That means living costs continue to go up, and up, and up, well beyond the growth of working salaries... And this has begun to leak into the Inland Empire. Some places in Corona and Southwest Riverside County are becoming unaffordable for the working middle class. Housing near the job hubs in Orange County and LA remain out of the question for many workers. Forget San Francisco; rentals costs there are nearly out of control. Reports are also beginning to show that this trend is going to create a very new definition of long distance super-commuting. And I thought 42 miles was pushing it.

With purchase and rental rates combined with food and health care prices rising faster than working salaries, this situation must be dealt with. Oil prices are down. California gas prices should be further dropping as we transition into winter blend. That means the price of food and the goods we buy should be reflecting that, not rising faster than working incomes.

The state government has had numerous opportunities to reform CEQA law and other trivial regulatory red tape which would better allow developers to expand infrastructure in existing high-demand areas to cut down on crowded housing conditions and high prices without fear of a trivial lawsuit.

Plus the marketplace needs to be allowed to expand the job market which would force employers to actually look for quality workers by paying them more. The way to do that is to reform the tax and regulatory codes. That will help get many mobile Californians off of the government welfare programs and back into the workplace and self-reliance.

You want smart growth and reduce vehicle miles traveled? Allow the marketplace to invest back in our existing cities, get an honest and robust housing market going with quality units, wide selections and competition from single rooms and studios starting at around $450/month all the way to spacious family-friendly units at about $2,000 monthly so that workers can afford to live where they work.

Anyway, I'm gathering up some hard facts on this topic and just wait until you see them. The success of smart growth is going to require fact-based solutions and reforms, period.

I do appreciate you following this blog. Talk to you next time.