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?
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:

1.  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.
2.  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.
3.  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:

1.  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.
2.  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).
3.  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.

1.  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.
2.  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.
3.  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:

1.  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.
2. 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. A couple of examples worth calling out:

Jefferson/La Cienegathe Cumulus development accounts for 1,200 of the 1,300 units permitted.
Hollywood – four buildings (the Rise, the Hollywood Cherokee, the Essex Hollywood, and 5750 Hollywood) account for 954/1,000 units permitted.
Historic Core / Arts Districtthe Perla condominiums account for all 450 units permitted.

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

1.  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.
2.  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.
3.  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.


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.


Welcome, Luke!

We’re excited to announce that Luke Klipp has joined the Abundant Housing LA Steering Committee as our Education Director! Luke has been a leader in LA for years, creating and championing great ideas in housing, transit, and other local issues, so we couldn’t be more thrilled to have Luke join the team.

Luke’s work is a key part of achieving our mission because we strongly believe that many housing issues in LA can be solved with education. In the 60s and 70s, progressive policy was to freeze a city in time in an attempt to maintain its diversity, creativity, and the things that made the city special. But the thing that makes a city great isn’t buildings. It’s people that matter, and people need homes.

Those attempts to freeze a city in time have happened here in LA, but the idea has far deeper roots in San Francisco. As a result, very little housing was built in the Bay Area for decades. But people don’t appear and disappear when buildings are built. New people came anyway, as babies were born and immigrants moved to the city in search of a better life. Without any housing for those new arrivals, every new San Franciscan displaced someone else who already lived in the city. People of color, the poor, much of the creative class – many of the very people who had made San Francisco a thriving cultural center were displaced from the city.

As Education Director, Luke develops and facilitates educational content to make sure that doesn’t happen here in Los Angeles County. He will help ensure that Abundant Housing members and allies are equipped with the information they need to keep LA a diverse, vibrant city for generations to come.

As the past President of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, Luke also provides guidance on working with neighborhood councils and encouraging community stakeholders to get more involved locally.

By day (and some evenings), Luke is a Metro Board Deputy to Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, where he ensures that the Mayor’s objectives for Metro-related items are met. He works closely with Metro staff around the Metro Blue Line, active transportation projects, and budget questions. Luke has worked over a decade in local, state, and federal politics on a range of topics, from transportation and land use, to health care, to student loans. He’s a former candidate for Democratic County Central Committee, and former Chair of the New Leaders Council San Francisco chapter. Luke is grateful to be a graduate of two awesome public schools: the University of Michigan, where he got his B.A. in Music, and the University of California-Berkeley, where he got his Masters in Public Policy.


Los Angeles Housing Development Update, 2Q 2018

Are you a member of Abundant Housing LA yet? Join our mailing list for housing- and affordability-related news and weekly action alerts that help increase the diversity of housing choices available to Angelenos.


Welcome to the latest installment of Abundant Housing LA’s Development Update!

This is where we dig into public City of Los Angeles data every 3 months to figure out what’s really going on in our housing market. How much housing are we permitting and building? How many of our new homes are single-family, large apartment/condo buildings, or “missing middle” housing? And how are we doing on Mayor Garcetti’s goal of building 100,000 new homes in 8 years? Where is the market headed?

In these updates we look at building permits (link above), which are an indicator of imminent construction activity, as well recent openings as measured by Certificates of Occupancy. You can read about our methodology for analyzing the data at the bottom of the post.*


Building Permits

For this post we’re looking at numbers through June 30th, 2018, the latest full quarter for which data is available. First up is a snapshot of overall permitting activity:

Here are the numbers behind the chart:

Next we break down the units per building, looking specifically at what share of total permits are for projects with at least 50 units:

Last for the building permit data, we look at how we’re progressing toward the Mayor’s goal of 100,000 new homes by 2021. Note that the goal’s start date is July 1, 2013, and the end date is June 30, 2021.


Certificates of Occupancy

Building permit data is extremely useful, but it doesn’t exactly correspond to what Abundant Housing really wants: homes for people to live in. For that we need to look at Certificates of Occupancy (CoO), which track actual building openings.

First a disclaimer though: The City controls whether it grants building permits, and how difficult or easy it is to receive those permits, but they don’t actually build the housing. CoO’s are what the developer needs when they finish the building so that tenants can move in, so it’s a measure of what’s actually opening to new residents. And since it takes a few years to construct a building, we’d expect to see a lag of 2-3 years between Building Permit and Certificate of Occupancy for the same project.

We raise these points because we want to make it clear that having fewer CoOs than building permits (which is what we see below) is not a failure on the part of the City. It’s what we’d expect when development activity has been growing, and it’s mostly out of the City’s hands whether building permits lead to real, on-the-ground construction. They almost always do, of course, but it’s not a guarantee.

With that said, here’s the data:

Within this time frame 2015 had the most building permits, so we should expect to see many of those units coming online in 2017 and 2018. That didn’t materialize in 2017, but it looks like things may be picking up in 2018.

Next is the data underlying the above chart:

And last, we’ve repurposed our “progress” chart for Certificates of Occupancy rather than building permits:

As always, we invite members and readers to share their own insights about what they read from the data. Let us know in the comments, and join us on Facebook and our mailing list to keep the conversation—and our advocacy—going strong.


*Methodology note: We are now excluding any building additions or alterations that add less than 5 units, which is a way for us to avoid counting permits that may not actually be adding new units. We also don’t count condo conversion permits, but do count adaptive reuse projects that add 5 units or more. Previous years’ numbers have been updated based on this new methodology so the data is comparable across time.

This change resulted in about 150 fewer single family homes in our calculations in previous years, and approximately 1,000 fewer single family homes in 2017. The jump in 2017 appears to be a result of recent changes to state and City law that permit the construction and conversion of accessory dwelling units. Since most of these ADUs appear to be legalizations of existing structures, we believe it’s fairer to not count these as “new” housing even though it’s great to see these homes being inspected and coming out of the informal housing market.


Los Angeles Housing Development Update, 1Q 2018

Are you a member of Abundant Housing LA yet? Join our mailing list for housing- and affordability-related news and weekly action alerts that help increase the diversity of housing choices available to Angelenos.


Welcome to the latest installment of Abundant Housing LA’s Development Update!

This is where we dig into public City of Los Angeles data every 3 months to figure out what’s really going on in our housing market. How much housing are we permitting and building? How many of our new homes are single-family, large apartment/condo buildings, or “missing middle” housing? And how are we doing on Mayor Garcetti’s goal of building 100,000 new homes in 8 years? Where is the market headed?

In these updates we look at building permits (link above), which are an indicator of imminent construction activity, as well recent openings as measured by Certificates of Occupancy. You can read about our methodology for analyzing the data at the bottom of the post.*


Building Permits

For this post we’re looking at numbers through March 31st, 2018, the latest full quarter for which data is available. First up is a snapshot of overall permitting activity:

Here are the numbers behind the chart:

Next we break down the units per building, looking specifically at what share of total permits are for projects with at least 50 units:

Last for the building permit data, we look at how we’re progressing toward the Mayor’s goal of 100,000 new homes by 2021. Note that the goal’s start date is July 1, 2013, and the end date is June 30, 2021.


Certificates of Occupancy

Building permit data is extremely useful, but it doesn’t exactly correspond to what Abundant Housing really wants: homes for people to live in. For that we need to look at Certificates of Occupancy (CoO), which track actual building openings.

First a disclaimer though: The City controls whether it grants building permits, and how difficult or easy it is to receive those permits, but they don’t actually build the housing. CoO’s are what the developer needs when they finish the building so that tenants can move in, so it’s a measure of what’s actually opening to new residents. And since it takes a few years to construct a building, we’d expect to see a lag of 2-3 years between Building Permit and Certificate of Occupancy for the same project.

We raise these points because we want to make it clear that having fewer CoOs than building permits (which is what we see below) is not a failure on the part of the City. It’s what we’d expect when development activity has been growing, and it’s mostly out of the City’s hands whether building permits lead to real, on-the-ground construction. They almost always do, of course, but it’s not a guarantee.

With that said, here’s the data:

Within this time frame 2015 had the most building permits, so we should expect to see many of those units coming online in 2017 and 2018. That didn’t materialize in 2017, and it remains to be seen whether the pace picks up in 2018.

Next is the data underlying the above chart:

And last, we’ve repurposed our “progress” chart for Certificates of Occupancy rather than building permits, and our progress suddenly doesn’t look so impressive:

As always, we invite members and readers to share their own insights about what they read from the data. Let us know in the comments, and join us on Facebook and our mailing list to keep the conversation—and our advocacy—going strong.


*Methodology note: We are now excluding any building additions or alterations that add less than 5 units, which is a way for us to avoid counting permits that may not actually be adding new units. We also don’t count condo conversion permits, but do count adaptive reuse projects that add 5 units or more. Previous years’ numbers have been updated based on this new methodology so the data is comparable across time.

This change resulted in about 150 fewer single family homes in our calculations in previous years, and approximately 1,000 fewer single family homes in 2017. The jump in 2017 appears to be a result of recent changes to state and City law that permit the construction and conversion of accessory dwelling units. Since most of these ADUs appear to be legalizations of existing structures, we believe it’s fairer to not count these as “new” housing even though it’s great to see these homes being inspected and coming out of the informal housing market.


Expo Line Plan moving forward: the good, the bad and the hopeful

It is possible to legalize more homes on Los Angeles’ Westside.

Sorry, you may not have been paying attention:

It is possible to legalize more homes on Los Angeles’ Westside!

Technically the Expo Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan (TNP) still needs to be passed by Los Angeles city council, but since amendments from the two city councilmembers that represent these neighborhoods have already passed, city council approval is expected. And it’s notable that, despite the reputation of local elected officials as reflexively deferential to the anti-growth movement, local councilmembers Mike Bonin and Paul Koretz, who represent two of the most affluent districts in the country, have both tacitly approved the TNP. Progress is possible.

More on Councilmember Koretz’s amendments to reduce housing capacity below, but it’s important to note how progressive the amendments offered by Councilmember Bonin were. His amendments increased capacity for homes in new mixed-use zones, increased affordability incentives within his council district to Transit-Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Incentives Tier 4, and allowed hundreds of single-family parcels to be re-zoned to allow for multi-family housing development (and we’re getting word that, no, the sky is not falling).

There aren’t many policy decisions that give everyone a win, but this sure feels like one:

  • For pro-housing advocates, Los Angeles has new zoned capacity for thousands of more homes.
  • For environmental advocates, the TNP re-orients development away from sprawl and towards infill
  • Affordable-housing advocates can point to capacity for hundreds of more affordable homes thanks to the legalization of more Measure JJJ-eligible base density, and
  • Pro-transit advocates can rest easy knowing that thousands more Angelenos will benefit from LA’s public transit investment

Unfortunately, one other group that got a win is a handful of homeowners in West LA. Despite the City Planning Commission’s decision to increase zoned capacity for housing along the corridor between the Sepulveda and Ranch Park Expo Line stations (as we recommended), Councilmember Koretz vetoed those upzones at the request of local homeowners. What was the source of this opposition? While the Westside Neighborhood Council’s (WNC) letter cites concerns about traffic congestion and the health of local businesses, the only tangible concerns the WNC articulated about these upzones were a desire to preserve the “garden home” style of several houses in the plan area, and concern about the impact of shadows on single-family houses adjacent to the planned upzone of Exposition Boulevard

It’s hard to take these concerns seriously. The proposed upzone from R2 to R3 on Exposition would not have changed the legal height maximum of 45 feet, so it wouldn’t have changed the… shadow profile?… of the neighborhood anyways.

As housing advocates, we must continue to shine a light on the need for more homes, especially in the birthplace of LA’s anti-growth movement: the westside.To that end, let’s quantify what was lost to appease a relatively small number of homeowners. The following is based on a pro bono analysis performed by pactriglo, a real estate analysis firm in Los Angeles:

Pico Boulevard between Bentley Ave. and Overland Ave:

  • Capacity in plan passed by Planning Commission: 1310 units, including 130 units for extremely low income Angelenos
  • Capacity in plan amended by PLUM Committee: 771 units
  • Units Lost: 539, including 130 affordable units

Exposition Boulevard between Sepulveda Blvd. and Midvale Ave:

  • Capacity in plan passed by Planning Commission:: 557 units, including 58 for extremely low income Angelenos
  • Capacity in plan amended by PLUM Committee: 109 units (i.e., status quo)
  • Units Lost: 448, including 59 affordable units

Total Units Lost: 987, including 189 units for extremely low income Angelenos

What did Angelenos get in exchange for sacrificing new apartments in this neighborhood? Nothing.
This is the cost of appeasing the anti-growth movement. We cannot afford to defer to the aesthetic concerns of the privileged few over the need for homes for all Angelenos. It’s what created the housing crisis in the first place.

Fortunately, the conversation feels it’s starting to change. In the past, most local stakeholders might have opposed new homes. But support from the Palms Neighborhood Council shows evolving attitudes towards development and housing, even in West LA. Rather than opposing rezoning for more apartments in their neighborhood, Palms embraced it, citing their neighborhood’s tradition of diversity and inclusion:

“The Palms NC supports the Expo Line TNP as it helps meet our neighborhood’s goals of new and affordable housing, street level neighborhood facing retail, and appropriate development near new mass transit investments. Additionally, more housing and walkable neighborhoods near transit stations is an environmental necessity. Without plans like the Expo Line TNP, we will aggravate traffic congestion, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerate displacement in LA.”

If LA’s leaders commit to the values articulated by the Palms Neighborhood Council, then perhaps one day Los Angeles can finally become the truly inclusive city it was always meant to be. That’s a vision worth fighting for.

#housingforall

(this post written by Nick Burns, Abundant Housing LA’s West LA local leader)

 


LA City Council: don’t oppose SB 827

This week we activated our members to write the Los Angeles City council against a motion that would put the City in opposition to SB 827. Today we sent a longer letter explaining why SB 827 is a good bill for the state and for LA. AHLA letter on city of LA 827 motion

We argue that the trade-off of a small amount of local control over a few aspects of zoning is worth it for a bill that would help add homes near transit and strengthen tenant protections.

We gave 8 reasons why we support Sb 827, and why the City of Los Angeles should too. They are elaborated on in the link above.

  1. It’s the first and only proposal that would address our housing shortage on the necessary scale.
  2. It would strengthen tenant rights and benefits.
  3. It would reduce housing shortages, rent increases, displacement, homelessness and Angelenos being forced to leave the region.
  4. It would reverse decades of exclusion from affluent, low-density neighborhoods.
  5. It’s aligned with policy goals which focus new housing near transit.
  6. It would create many more resources for affordable housing.
  7. It would force free-loading cities to allow their fair share of housing.
  8. It would dramatically reduce our contribution to global carbon emissions.


speaking up for housing for the homeless, tenant rights, and density

Abundant Housing LA supports more homes of all types. We are proud to help advance multi-faceted housing solutions to expand the number of homes while also helping those who lack a place to live and those who have a home, but feel a lack of security due to high rents or precarious tenure.

This week we weighed in on a number of critical housing policies. Our director, Brent Gaisford published an op-ed in the LA Times suggesting that a right-to-remain for tenants, combined with upzoning near transit as proposed by SB 827, would be a powerful combination to protect tenant rights and to increase housing supply.

An article in the Times quoted the Abundant Housing LA letter in support of the City’s permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance that policy committee members Ezra Hammer and Mark Vallianatos had drafted.

Mark also spoke in favor of the PSH ordinance and the city’s Motel Conversion Ordinance on AirTalk on KPCC.

We look forward to supporting pro-housing policies and being part of the conversation on how Los Angeles and California can have enough homes.