Scott Wilson, THE WASTHINGTON POST
The West’s new climate is exacerbating housing inequality in the quintessentially blue state of California.
Many of the victims have been left without adequate insurance or financial means to rebuild. Those who remained are in large part the well-off and the well-insured, a trend helping remake and re-sort communities across the state by rich and poor.
SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Climate change and its most extreme consequences are pushing up the price of homes throughout much of the American West, as fires and flooding carve into existing housing stock and restrict the amount of land suitable for future building.
Over several harrowing weeks in October 2017, the Tubbs Fire swept over this city’s eastern hills to destroy about 5,600 homes, an estimated 5 percent of the region’s already threadbare housing stock. Twenty-two people died in the flames.
It was the first mega-fire of California’s new mega-fire era, a flashing red light along the West’s path into a new climate. The Tubbs Fire was also the start of a new kind of economic gentrification, one caused by the increasingly harmful effects of climate change, the higher costs of rebuilding and insuring homes in fire-prone areas, and a housing stock diminished by fire and flooding.
The results have undermined California’s push to build more affordable housing, a goal set by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the rest of a state Democratic leadership, whose political ethic has made a priority of narrowing the gap between rich and poor, an imbalance particularly pronounced in the nation’s most populous state.