Latest Threat to SoCal Housing Market: Climate Change

The aroma of turkey with all the trimmings isn't the only thing in the air in Southern California this week. Your neighbor -- the one who's had the "For Sale" sign on the front lawn for longer than it's comfortable for either of you to discuss -- can practically smell escrow. To a lot of people, it feels like a lifetime ago that the dirt began to give way beneath our feet and then -- seemingly in the next instant -- the region's housing market fell off the cliff. It has been a long -- and for some, financially and personally devastating -- five years since those first headlines that hinted at something deeper than the usual market correction: something darker, more venal. Something intentional. Something premeditated. Something that came with its own sinister vocabulary: credit default swap; moral hazard; too big to fail; toxic security.

So when the number of home sales -- and their selling prices -- showed significant growth last month in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, it felt like the housing market might really be eliminated as the biggest threat to California's economy.

But nature abhors a vacuum. So maybe it isn't surprising that the latest dark cloud on the state's economic horizon may be climate change. If, as scientists predict, sea levels along the California coastline rise four and a half feet over the next century, about $2,500,000,000 worth of real estate in the state would be under water. Not underwater meaning your home is worth less than the amount you owe on your mortgage, but underwater meaning your house now functions as an artificial reef.

Here's some perspective from Cara Horowitz, Director of UCLA's Emmet Center on Climate Change and the Environment:

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Correspondent Laurel Erickson runs down the proposed solutions on tonight's SoCal Connected at 7:00 and 10:30 p.m. on KCET.

"From the Control Room" is where "SoCal Connected" producers take you behind the scenes of the award-winning investigative/civic watchdog newsmagazine. You'll learn about stories we're working on, get a feel for how the program comes together, and hear from the staff.

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