Taking Leavitt

The NAHB applauds President Bush's appointment of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt as new administrator of the EPA.

"We look forward to working with [Leavitt] to achieve balance in the nation's environmental policies that provide protection for the environment without harming economic growth," says Jerry Howard, executive vice president and CEO of the NAHB.

To realize these goals, Howard says the United States needs a regulatory environment that will protect the nation's natural resources without adding red tape and costs that jeopardize housing affordability for the nation's working families.

"We can do more to achieve progress in these areas with [Leavitt's] leadership," Howard says.

Wealthy West

More than one out of every three U.S. homes valued at a million dollars or more could be found in California at the start of this decade, according to NAHB analysis of 2000 Census data.

And California's grip on the million-dollar marketplace has only strengthened since then, according to Bob Rivinius, CEO of the California BIA. "In light of [California's] strong rate of home appreciation, ever-increasing demand, and rising land and regulatory costs, I'd venture that the number of million-dollar homes here has probably doubled since the 2000 Census," Rivinius says.

New York boasted the second-highest number of million-dollar residences, with 22,300, or 7.1 percent of the nation's total. Third on the list was Florida (18,000), followed by Connecticut (13,900) and Illinois (12,400).

Tarif-ic Win

The ruling by a bi-national North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel rejecting 19 percent U.S. countervailing duties on Canadian lumber imports represents another important legal win for housing affordability and consumers, the NAHB says.

A NAFTA panel has ruled that the Department of Commerce was wrong to impose 8 percent anti-dumping duties on Canadian lumber shipments and that methods used to calculate the duties had to be changed.

Current duties total 27 percent on Canadian lumber shipments into the United States (19 percent countervailing and 8 percent anti-dumping duties). If fully reflected in U.S. lumber prices, the combined duties could add more than $1,000 to the cost of building a new home, imposing a hidden tax on buyers and renters.

Owl's OK

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) rationale for its 1997 listing of the Arizona population of the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl as endangered was "arbitrary and capricious." The court also ruled, in NAHB et al v. Norton, that the listing violated the federal agency's own policies.

"The court has firmly reiterated what we have argued for the past three years: Whether federal protection of Arizona's pygmy owls is necessary is a decision to be made on the basis of good scientific data," says Jerry Howard, NAHB executive vice president and CEO.

With this decision, the court calls into question the status of a proposed endangered species act critical habitat designation for the bird. It included land-use restrictions that could have added as much as $12,000 to the price of a new home in the Tucson area.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.