Please forgive the tardiness of this note. You moved to California more than a year ago, and I’m only now welcoming you.
First, a huge thanks to you, your husband Jay-Z and your daughter Blue Ivy for relocating here. A move to California by “the most important and compelling popular musician of the 21st century,” as the New Yorker called you, provides a heavy dose of cultural credibility to our struggling entertainment industry. And you already singlehandedly debunked the enduring myth that the megarich are fleeing California because of our high tax rates.
But I know that any transition to California can be difficult. So let me offer some neighborly assistance. Particularly with the challenge that vexes you and our fellow Californians more than any other: buying a house.
As a Californian, I’m embarrassed to learn, via TMZ, that you are still a renter. Apparently, your first rental home in L.A. got sold for $30 million, and you were kicked out by the new landlord. Then you got outbid for one Beverly Hills megamansion by that Swedish gamer. Now you’re stuck renting a Holmby Hills palace for $150,000 a month.
I realize the fact that California has the nation’s highest housing costs is probably not a direct concern for someone worth of hundreds of millions of dollars. But as you are now experiencing, the reason for our high housing costs is that we simply haven’t built enough houses for anybody – rich, poor or middle class.
With our limited coastal land and development restrictions, there simply aren’t enough mansions here for all the superrich people seeking a safe haven for their families and assets. That means we’re missing out on attracting rich people and their tax dollars.
No matter who you are, being a renter can be a real blow to one’s feeling of autonomy. As you noted in “Independent Women,” ”the house I live in, I’ve bought it … I depend on me.” Owning would seem essential to privacy for someone with the love of cooking naked you professed in “Jealous” (I know all your hits).
I’m worried that you might throw up your hands and move back to your native Texas, which would be a huge blow to our state’s pride. So, Bey, I beg you – say you’ll never let us go.
You not only can afford a home here, but also you can play a big role in drawing the attention to the causes of California’s housing problems. While polls show housing is a big concern for regular people, Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t even mention it in his State of the State speech.
You may not believe it, but your housing problems are connected to those of people in poorer parts of the state. NIMBYism and strict regulations create coastal housing shortages that force people to move inland and drive up housing costs, according to a Legislative Analyst’s Office report.
Since you share the same predicament as so many Californians, you would be an irresistible and irreplaceable spokeswoman to strip away anti-housing regulations. How about bringing your alter ego Sasha Fierce out of retirement and siccing her on a major contributor to our housing crisis, the California Environmental Quality Act?
CEQA, once used for environmental protection, is mostly a way for entrenched interests to block badly needed housing and public infrastructure. Instead of a wardrobe malfunction at next week’s Super Bowl halftime show in Santa Clara, why not slip a pro-housing statement into one of your numbers?
And as you struggle with your own search for a home, please know that if you need a shoulder to cry on, I’m just a phone call away.
Yours in crazy, dangerous California love,
Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.