Nov 2018 Election Results

 

Race Result AHLA Endorsement Read More
Governor Gavin Newsom 60% No Position Newsom wants to build 3.5 million homes by 2025
Prop 1: housing bond Yes 54% Support CA voted to issue $4B in housing assistance bonds
Prop 2: mental-illness housing funding Yes 61% Support Prop 2 will fund housing for mentally ill homeless residents
Prop 5: property tax discount for seniors No 58% Oppose No expansion of Prop 13 for seniors who move
Prop 6: gas tax repeal No 55% Oppose The gas tax will remain in effect
Prop 10: end rent control limits No 62% No Position Expansion of rent control loses by wide margin
City of LA Charter Amendment B: public bank No 58% Support Charter amendment to establish a public bank was defeated

 


Abundant Mapping LA

by Anthony Dedousis

Abundant Housing LA supports more housing (duh) and smart urban growth across Los Angeles. Our organization exists because Los Angeles has not built enough housing over the past decades to meet demand, and we want to be part of the solution. The first step towards solving a problem is recognizing that it’s there, and we can use data to prove that the problem exists, and to visualize the scale of the problem.

Fortunately, the city of Los Angeles maintains a detailed database of all new building permits (effectively, new housing construction) and certificates of occupancy (new housing completions) issued since 2013. I pulled these datasets into R, a data analysis software package, to tabulate this information at the ZIP code level and plot it on a sweet Google Map. This allows us to easily visualize how many homes (technically “residential dwelling units”, or RDUs) have been added in different parts of Los Angeles over the past 5 years. Read on for answers to your most burning questions about housing in LA, like:

  • Which neighborhoods are adding the most new housing? Which aren’t?
  • In which neighborhoods does NIMBY-ism have the strongest impact?
  • Where does dense development occur?
  • How have these trends evolved in 2018?
  • Where can we expect new housing to open in the next few years?

Let’s go to the videotape…

Figure 1a: New Building Openings by Number of Homes, 2013-18

Since the beginning of 2013, the city of Los Angeles has added 52,000 homes.  The white ZIP codes have added the least housing (0-100 homes), while the reddest ZIP codes have added the most housing (1,000-5,000 homes), with yellow (100-500 homes) and light orange (500-1,000 homes) falling in between. A friendly reminder: most of the Valley and parts of the South Bay are part of the city of Los Angeles (which is why their ZIP codes are represented on the map), and Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Burbank, and many other cities are separate from Los Angeles (which is why their ZIP codes are not on the map). A couple of findings that will surprise no one:

  • Downtown LA is leading the way – it has added over 10,000 units since 2013, nearly a fifth of the citywide total.  Of the 11 ZIP codes across LA that added 1,000+ units over the past five years, four are Downtown.
  • The Valley is not – outside of a few dense patches near Burbank, there has been very little new housing added in the Valley in recent years.
  • Neither is the Westside or South LA – we also observe relatively little construction along the 110 in the South Bay and throughout the Westside.

Let’s zoom in for a more granular look at central Los Angeles:

Figure 1b: New Building Openings by Number of Homes, 2013-18, Central LA

 

This gives us a better look at some neighborhood-by-neighborhood differences:

  • Not all Downtown LA neighborhoods are alike – within Downtown, thousands of units have been added in ZIP code 90012 (Chinatown/Bunker Hill), 90015 (South Park), 90017 (Downtown/Westlake), and 90014 (central Downtown). But the Historic Core/Arts District (90013), Fashion District (90021), Boyle Heights (90033), and Lincoln Heights (90031) have seen very little new housing come online, despite rapid population growth.
  • On the Westside, there’s Playa Vista and there’s everyone else – despite its small geographic size, Playa Vista (ZIP code 90094) has added 2,500 units of housing since 2013 (which is third-most in LA). The Silicon Beach neighborhood has added thousands of tech jobs over the past few years, including a Google regional headquarters, and most of the 2,500 units recently added are part of a single luxury apartment complex, the Villas at Playa Vista.  The only other Westside ZIP codes that have added more than 500 housing units are Marina Del Rey (90292), and Westchester (90045).
  • NIMBYism is fierce – many popular neighborhoods, like Venice, Palms, Westwood, Los Feliz, and Highland Park, have built fewer than 500 units in the past five years.  Not surprisingly, many of these neighborhoods are hotbeds of NIMBYism, and have experienced sharp increases in the cost of buying and renting homes.

Of the 52,000 homes added over the past five years, about 55% are in buildings with 50 or more units. These taller buildings are critically needed, in order to allow more people to live near job centers and reduce sprawl and traffic. So where in LA is dense development occurring?

Figure 2: New Building Openings by Number of Homes, 2013-18, 50+ Unit Buildings Only

As you can see, outside of Downtown and a few other neighborhoods, dense development is hardly abundant.

  • Dense neighborhoods are fast-growing neighborhoods – the neighborhoods that are adding the most housing overall (e.g. Downtown, Hollywood, Playa Vista) are also the ones that are opening the most housing in buildings with 50+ units. It’s hard to add a significant amount of housing without building taller buildings.
  • Zoning matters – Downtown, Hollywood, Koreatown, Marina del Rey, and Playa Vista already have tall buildings, and are able to add more, because they are zoned for denser development. If major arteries like Venice Boulevard on the Westside and Sunset Boulevard on the Eastside were upzoned, you’d likely see construction of taller buildings along those streets.
  • Wilshire Boulevard west of Koreatown isn’t keeping up – despite the historical presence of tall buildings along Wilshire, neighborhoods like Westwood, Brentwood, and Miracle Mile are adding few large residential buildings. This highlights how important it is for AHLA to support a Purple Line Transit Neighborhood Plan that encourages dense new housing construction and transit-oriented development.

Now, let’s look at 2018 only. So far this year, Los Angeles has added roughly 10,000 new units of housing. Where has that growth occurred?

Figure 3: New Building Openings by Number of Homes, 2018

The patterns we’ve seen over the past five years have continued into 2018. Downtown (90017, 90012, 90014), Hollywood (90028), and Koreatown (90005, 90006) are responsible for 40% of the new units added this year.  No other neighborhood has added more than 250 new units. Finally, let’s check out the number of new housing units permitted by neighborhood. The city has permitted over 13,000 new homes in 2018, and we can expect them to open in the next 1-3 years. But where?

Figure 4: New Building Permits by Number of Homes, 2018, Central LA

Interestingly, new permitted development is spread a little more evenly than recent completed development. A couple of trends to call out:

  • Downtown is #1 no longer – the Jefferson/La Cienega neighborhood near the 10 (ZIP code 90016) permitted 1,300 units so far this year. Hollywood (90028) is in second place with almost 1,000 units permitted, and Woodland Hills (91367), Toluca Terrace (91601), and the Historic Core/Arts District (90013) round out the top five.  Only 90013 is a Downtown ZIP code; the other ZIP codes in Downtown barely permitted any new units.
  • Uneven growth within these neighborhoods – the new construction in these neighborhoods reflects the impact of a few large-scale luxury projects, rather than broad-based development. As the Dodgers could tell you, hitting a few big home runs isn’t enough to win.

Three things that you can take away from this joyride through Google Maps and R:

  • Outside of Downtown and a few other ZIP codes, most neighborhoods aren’t opening or permitting a meaningful amount of new residential housing, even ones that are located close to major job centers or along Metro lines. Abundant Housing LA and other voices for smart growth won’t be going out of business anytime soon.
    • Los Angeles needs dense development in order to add significant housing capacity. The neighborhoods that added the most housing units over the past five years did so by opening and permitting buildings with 50+ units.
  • Restrictive zoning makes it difficult to build densely, which chokes off housing growth in most LA neighborhoods.  LA can’t grow without taller buildings, and LA can’t add taller buildings without changing outdated zoning laws. More upzoning along major road and rail corridors is needed, and Abundant Housing LA should carry that message forward as the city rolls out neighborhood transit plans for the Expo Line and Purple Line.

Remember, if you live in a neighborhood that’s not encouraging enough housing construction (i.e. almost everyone), make sure to tell your neighborhood council and your city councillor how you feel about it.  Show them these maps, and ask them why your neighborhood or city council district isn’t doing its part to make housing affordable and abundant. Appendix: Methodology I defined new permitted homes by excluding the following permits:

  • Any building additions or alterations that add less than 5 units, which is a way to avoid counting permits that may not actually be adding new units
  • Condo conversion permits
  • Permits with property valuation of <$502, which are almost all supplemental review permits.

I defined new housing completions by excluding:

  • Any permit type other than Bldg-Add, Bldg-Alter/Repair, Bldg-New
  • Any permit with 0 RDU

AHLA Endorsements – Nov 2018 Election

 

PROP 1 – SUPPORT

PROP 2 – SUPPORT

PROP 5 – OPPOSE

PROP 6 – OPPOSE

PROP 10 – NO CONSENSUS*

CHARTER AMENDMENT B (Municipal Bank) – SUPPORT

 

*Note about Prop 10 – Prop 10 is a very broad proposition that could lead to problematic local rules. It could also help renters. We are therefore not taking a position on Prop 10. In August 2018, members attending our general meeting voted in a straw-poll on the measure, and a ‘no-position’ approach received the most support. We respect this input. Abundant Housing LA believes that Prop 10 is not a well-crafted way to address state limits on local rent control. We also know that many of our members and tens of millions of renters across the state are paying too much to rent their homes, and many view the potential for expanded rent control as a lifeline.



California: Don’t Leave America. Bring America To Us.

The Abundant Housing LA team worked on this editorial in response to the #CalExit push for secession from the U.S. Our pitch:

“We at Abundant Housing LA have a counter-proposal, one we think is both more hopeful and more plausible: Instead of leaving America behind, we should bring America to us. Our state attracts people of all races and ethnicities, genders and sexual identities, faiths and cultures. It’s something we’ve long celebrated, and rightly so. Rather than parting ways with the United States, let’s dial that welcoming attitude into overdrive. Let’s be radically inclusive. Let us be a refuge, a 21st century Ellis Island, for internal and external refugees alike.”

Read more here.

 


Help us support the proposed mixed-used development at 3700 Wilshire Blvd!

This week we need your help to support a proposed mixed-used development and provide input for LA’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance (look for the green buttons below).

In housing news, Portland has a unique new proposal that will address two challenging issues in their city: “mansionization” of existing homes, and a lack of affordable housing options. The idea is to limit the total development potential on single-family parcels, but to allow buildings to be divided into more than one unit. In other words, you would no longer be allowed to tear down a 1,500 square foot single-family home to replace it with a 4,000 SF one, but you _could_ build a 2,500 SF building with up to 3 units. You can’t buy a run-down home and turn it into a much bigger rich-person home, but you _can_ buy a run-down home and turn it into good, relatively affordable housing for 2 or more households. It’s an intriguing proposal, and represents the kind of win-win, outside-the-box thinking that AHLA advocates for. Read more here.

Help us support a development project in Koreatown

Help us support the proposed mixed-used development at 3700 Wilshire Blvd! This project will include 506 new apartments. This project will help increase housing supply and is ideally located close to transit. Write to the city of LA in support!

Send an email in support of the project with a single click

Submit input for LA’s ADU ordinance

We have a rare opportunity to improve L.A.’s rules to allow more residents to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), sometimes also called a ‘granny flat,’ ‘backyard home,’ or ‘second unit’. These second units can help residents house their family members, earn rent to afford their mortgage, and add new housing units to help relieve LA’s housing crisis.

Los Angeles City is currently updating its ordinance that regulates ADUs in response to new state laws. This past September, Gov. Brown signed landmark Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) legislation to make it easier for property owners to build an accessory dwelling. for The state legislation will remove some barriers. Starting January 1st, anyone in California may convert any existing accessory structure (such as a garage) into a dwelling unit, as long as it meets safety code standards, has a setback sufficient for fire safety and it doesn’t exceed 1,200 square feet. If covered parking was removed by the dwelling unit conversion, it need only be replaced by parking on existing driveways or setback areas.

But it is crucial that LA pass a good local ordinance. Cities still retain some control over where ADUs are allowed, how big they can be, and parking requirements for second units. The details of the LA ordinance will determine where it is legal and feasible to build second homes.

 


Join us for the December 6th community open house re the South and Southeast community plans

Fill the Pit at Sherman Way and Mason Ave

Support more housing construction in the Valley! This proposed mixed-use project at the intersection of Sherman Way and Mason Ave will provide 52 market rate units and 9 dedicated affordable low income units, replacing a long-vacant lot. It will also provide a restaurant establishment. It is located near Pierce College and Warner Center, providing good access to employment, education, and other amenities. The project has been approved by the planning committee in Winnetka but was shot down in the general meeting because of 1-4 very vocal community members. We need to show the Winnetka Neighborhood Council Board that there are people who DO support the project and want to see more housing built in the area. Let them know by clicking the link below. Or, if you would like to tell the Board in person, attend the meeting on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm at 20122 Vanowen St,Canoga Park, CA 91306 (next to Winnetka Bowl).

Support the Project Here
Two more projects needing our help: 11147 N. Woodley Ave and 3240 Wilshire Blvd

Help us support two more proposed housing developments in LA: 418 market rate units and 22 dedicated very low income units at 11147 N Woodley Ave in the Valley, and 491 market rate units and 54 dedicated very low income units at 3240 Wilshire Blvd in K-town! Write to the city of LA in support!

Support Additional Projects Here

Support greater density by joining us on December 6th at the open house for the new South and Southeast community plans
Abundant Housing LA will be advocating for pro-housing development policies at the December 6th Open House regarding the South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles Community Plans. The existing Community Plans were last adopted in the year 2000 and are being updated to reflect current policies and conditions and to address community issues related to land use. The Proposed Plans update the goals and policies of the community plan and implement programs through a series of Zone Changes and Land Use Changes, including the adoption of a Community Plan Implementation Overlay District (CPIO) for each Community Plan. This is a great opportunity for Abundant Housing LA members to stress the importance of building more housing in the community in order to increase livability in South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles and lower rents. Join us on December 6th at 5:00 PM at the Los Angeles Trade Tech College Outdoor Event Tent (behind Aspen Hill). More information here.
Sign Up to Attend Here


Weekly Update – November meeting, LA2040 General Plan, and 26378 S Vermont Ave

Don’t forget to join us for the AHLA/Happy Urbanists joint meeting is this Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at El Compadre.

Join us for a special November AHLA (Abundant Housing Los Angeles) meeting in partnership with Happy Urbanists, Los Angeles’ premier monthly social gathering of urbanists, where we’ll be chatting about housing and urbanist issues facing LA County in a relaxed social setting.

When: November 16 at 6:30 PM

Where: El Compadre ( 1248 S Figueroa St #101, Los Angeles, CA 90015 )

How to get there by public transit: Exit at the Pico station of the Blue/Expo line and walk west 1/2 a block on Pico. You can also take the Dash D bus to stop #6051, walk two blocks north on Grand and then a block west on Pico.

More details here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1674214396203767/

Submit your input for the LA2040 General Plan!

LA is currently updating the General Plan, which is a policy document that guides decisions about land use and zoning across the city. They are soliciting community input via an online survey to make sure the plan reflects the desires of Angelenos, so let’s make sure they get a lot of pro-housing responses!

Help us support a project!

Support a proposed 110-unit housing project at 26378 S Vermont Ave! This infill project will replace a vacant lot with 110 units of new housing, including 36 market rate units, 69 senior market rate units, and 5 dedicated very low income senior units. The project proposes to use the density bonus program, thereby increasing the supply of both market rate and dedicated affordable units. Support this project by submitting a comment to the case planner and LA city councilmember.


Small Lot Subdivisions: What Are They?

In 2005, the City of LA created the small lot subdivision ordinance. This land use policy is not well understood, and has recently come under fire from both NIMBYs that want to stop development in LA and people concerned about displacement. With that in mind, let’s get to know the small lot subdivision ordinance, and see how it might be improved to better serve LA’s housing needs.

What Are Small Lot Subdivisions?

A small lot subdivision is a project that constructs several free-standing single-family houses or attached townhouses, albeit with separate walls and a small amount of airspace in between homes, on lots that are smaller than conventional single-family lots. Unlike apartments, which are rented, or condominiums, which come with costly condo board fees and assessments, the houses in a small lot subdivision are owned fee simple, meaning that each unit is owned individually. Common areas like driveways or open space are typically governed by a simple maintenance agreement rather than a costly and bureaucratic homeowners association. By increasing density and avoiding condo fees, small lot subdivisions make home ownership more affordable. Continue Reading


Zoning Changes in Los Angeles

In our previous post, we looked at the basic zoning rules that govern development in Los Angeles. In this post, we’ll look at what has to happen to get permission to do something different than what the zoning allows.

Depending on how much the proposed development deviates from what is allowed by the zoning rules, there are different levels of permission needed from the city. For example, a small change, such as a little extra height, requires a relatively small action from the city, while larger changes require larger actions from the city.

By-Right Development

If a project complies with all the zoning requirements and doesn’t require approval by city planning, the project can simply be approved by the city as long as it complies with the building code and other regulations. These projects are called “by right” projects – the owner of the land has the right to do the project without any special permission from the city.

In practice, very few projects are totally by right. Even relatively simple projects like small lot subdivisions, which are small developments of single-family houses, require city approval to subdivide the land (a “parcel map” for 4 or fewer houses, a “tract map” for more). Public hearings must be held for such actions. In addition, most of Los Angeles was zoned decades ago, and the zoning doesn’t reflect the current needs of the city. Continue Reading