California Housing Crisis Podcast: Fires prompt doomsday predictions

Photographers document the Kincade fire in the Geysers run as the fire approaches Geysers Road last month in Sonoma County.
Photographers documenting the Kincade fire in the Geysers run as the fire approaches Geysers Road last month in Sonoma County.
(Kent Porter/AP)

As tens of thousands of Californians faced evacuation orders and power outages amid intensifying wildfires in recent weeks, the industry of punditry cranked into gear. California, cowed by high housing costs and increased threats of fire because of climate change, was over.

One of the most prominent columns came from Farhad Manjoo, opinion writer for the New York Times, who argued that reorienting the state to move lots more people into cities and away from fire-prone areas seemed like an impossibly tall task.

“California, as it’s currently designed, will not survive the coming climate,” Manjoo wrote in "It’s the End of California as We Know It.” “Either we alter how we live here, or many of us won’t live here anymore.”

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we interviewed Manjoo about the column and described how state officials are attempting to deal with housing concerns after years of destructive wildfires. We also checked in with John Thill, a resident of Santa Rosa who lost his home and business two years ago in the Tubbs fire, to hear about his rebuilding process.


And we detailed a big move by local governments in Southern California to plan for future growth in already developed coastal areas rather than in the Inland Empire — a decision motivated in part by climate concerns.

Gimme Shelter,” a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it, features Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Matt Levin, data and housing reporter for CALmatters.

You can subscribe to “Gimme Shelter” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play and Overcast.