Letters to the Editor: O.C. suburbs stand in the way of affordable housing in California

A residential development in Orange County.
In Yorba Linda, a newer, denser residential development sits amid the mostly single-family neighborhoods of the Orange County suburb.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As an architect, I have been designing all varieties of residential housing for more than 30 years and, informed by this experience, I have come to believe the only major obstacle stopping an effective response to our housing crisis is a distinct lack of will. (“Amid housing crunch, officials want Orange County to stay the way it is,” Jan. 22)

As the saying goes: “where there’s a will, there is a way.” Unfortunately, there is a considerable lack of will to address this pressing issue for many elected officials and housed residents alike.

Sadly, I found the comments of Councilwoman Peggy Huang of Yorba Linda, who resists building denser housing in suburban Orange County, fitting this stereotype perfectly: plenty of excuses coupled with a clear lack of any city-generated solutions for housing.


Many officials in Orange County have chafed as state legislation and regional housing allotments have forced them to take our housing shortages seriously. I hope this pressure inspires our communities to develop the will and conviction necessary to take constructive action on housing.

Steve Shepherd, Huntington Beach


To the editor: Obviously we have a major housing shortage in the metro hubs of California. So many are unhoused or many simply find rents or mortgages to be beyond their means.

So the obvious answer is to build more housing, right?

But I ask: Does everyone in California have to live in these metro areas? Must we add to our density? Don’t we have to figure out the infrastructure first?

And from where will the water come? What about the traffic? Because as we know, more people equals more cars.

With the current population exodus from California, perhaps we won’t need all these new homes after all.


James Bevacqua, Glendale


To the editor: We read that amid a severe statewide housing shortage, officials of nearly half the cities in Orange County chose to sue the state rather than allow enough new housing to be built to meet the needs of their cities — because almost all new housing would be apartments and condos, and they see multifamily housing (and the people who live in it) as a threat to their idea of neighborhood character.

These nice people would never discriminate against anyone based on the color of their skin, but they have no problem discriminating against people based on the type of housing they live in. If you can’t afford to live in a single-family house, they don’t want you in their neighborhood.

It’s time to start talking about those in the upper-middle class who discriminate against the 80% of the population who make less money than they do.

Sharon Gehl, San Diego


To the editor: Your story quotes one person who moved to Yorba Linda decades ago because she wanted to own horses, and now worries that new buyers might build denser housing on her street’s half-acre lots. Others expressed that they do not want to lose the spread-out suburbia of single-family homes that they claim defines Orange County.


When weighing the needs of the housing insecure against luxury for the very few, I feel the policy decisions should be easy and obvious.

Keeping Orange County “the way it is” really means maintaining exclusionary, frequently racist policies for the comfort of powerful (majority white) stakeholders. It is time for Orange County to own up to its history of poor zoning choices and play its part in solving California’s worsening housing crisis.

Lucas Chen, Los Angeles