Los Angeles Housing Development Update, 3Q 2017

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

We’ll dig into public City of Los Angeles data 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?

This is a special edition of the Development Update because we’ve expanded beyond looking only at the building permits issued by the City (which allow developers to start building), and will now also be tracking building openings as measured by Certificates of Occupancy. Because of the increase in data and charts, we’ll be reducing our commentary somewhat. And one last thing before we get to he data: We’ve changed the methodology for how we track building permits; the change is described at the bottom of this post.*


Building Permits

For this post we’re looking at numbers through September 30th, 2017, the latest full quarter for which data is available. First up is a snapshot of overall permitting activity through the first 9 months of the year. As you’ll see, permits are roughly on track to land somewhere around the last two years, between about 15,000 and 16,500 units:

LA_housing_permits_2013-3Q2017

And here are the numbers behind that chart:

We’re ahead of 2016’s pace, which is great news. We’re behind compared to 2015 though, which isn’t so great.

Next we break down the units per building, looking specifically at what share of total permits are for projects with at least 50 units. As with total unit counts, building sizes are similar to those of the last few years.

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

Now, 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. We’ve started doing exactly that, and you can see the results below.

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 based on timing, 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:

LA_CertOcc_2013-3Q2017

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. We’re behind what we might expect for Certificates of Occupancy in 2017, unfortunately, but we will need to wait until the first few quarters of 2018 to really know what’s come of that (relative) flurry of permitting in 2015.

Next is the data underlying the above chart. We would hope that the pace of openings would be greater than in 2016, but that’s not the case:

LA_UnitCount_CertOcc_3Q2017

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:

LA_housing_goal_CertOcc_3Q2017

Did you pick up anything else 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.


Talking points for new plans

purple line plan area

purple line plan area

 

The City of Los Angeles is currently updating many of its land use plans. So are other area cities, such as Long Beach.   (More on Long Beach soon….) We have a rare opportunity to influence community plans, transit plans, general plans, and zoning codes. We need residents to support more housing in every community to ensure that Los Angeles has room for current residents to stay in LA and for newcomers to move here.

We have the chance this week to attend meeting on the Orange Line Plan Wednesday night and Purple Line Plan thursday night.

If you are able to attend one of these meetings, or if you have a chance later to send comments on the plan, what should you ask for that would help address LA’s housing crisis? We have a few suggestions/ talking points:

1. Tell planners to set the new housing capacity significantly above anticipated population, and to study this level of upzone in the Environmental Impact report.

This point sounds a little technical, so we’ll try to explain it. Planners are required to conduct an environmental review a proposed land use plan. As part of this process, they will estimate how many new homes and jobs would be allowed in the plan area due to changes to zoning, and study the potential environmental impacts of these new homes and businesses.

LA plans tend to change zoning just enough to accommodate expected growth in population. For example, say that a plan area currently has 40,000 households and 41,000 homes (sadly, this reflects the reality in most neighborhoods where vacancy rates are low and there is not enough room to grow). Estimates show that another 4000 households are expected to arrive in the next few decades, so the plan calls for changing zoning to allow 4250 new homes. This means that there will be 44,000 households and 45,250 homes. Notice any problems? First, we are planning for low vacancy rates, which practically guarantees high rents! Second, what happens if there is higher than anticipated population growth? Third, the number of new homes ignores the fact that LA has hundreds of thousands of low-income households living in overcrowded housing and hundreds of thousands of younger residents forced to stay with their parents.

The solution is to zone for significantly more new homes than the future anticipated population. This will create “breathing room” to relieve the current shortage and tightness in the housing market. If we need more homes, there will be the possibility to build them. If the extra zoned capacity isn’t used, there is no harm, it’s just potential space for future expansion.

Abundant Housing LA recommends that all plan updates or new plans zone for housing capacity at least 50% above the anticipated future number of households.

It is also crucial that the Environmental Impact Reviews for plans study this higher level of zoning. If the EIR doesn’t study this potential higher zoning, it won’t make it into the plan.

2. Suggest specific areas where new homes could go

If you know the plan area well because you live or work there or visit it, you should suggest some places (sub-areas, streets, etc) where you’d like to see upzones, bigger buildings and more homes. These sites might be low-rise areas close to transit, places with lots of surface parking and underutilized lots, etc. Your local knowledge will help make the case for zoning changes and a better city.

3. Allow small apartments in ‘single family’ areas near transit

In editorializing last week about the need for more housing in the Expo Line Transit Plan, the LA Times made an important point about the irony of single unit zoning close to train stations: “Yes, single-family neighborhoods are part of the character and fabric of L.A., but it’s hard to see how the city can house its current occupants, let alone the growing population to come, without at least pondering looser restrictions that allow more triplexes, fourplexes and townhomes.”

We agree! We support diverse low rise housing. Our policy agenda calls for allowing a minimum of 4 units on a standard 5000 sf lot if the property is within a 1/2 mile of quality transit.

4. Eliminate parking requirements near transit.
It’s dumb to mandate on site parking for homes close to transit. Requiring more parking than developers and residents want makes housing more expensive; leads to bad design because parking spaces often shape the architecture more than human needs and amenities; and pollutes the air and warms the climate by encouraging driving. We believe that there should be no vehicle parking requirements within 1/2 mile of transit.

If you have other ideas for these plans, let us know!


Get involved in LA Plan updates!

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This week Abundant Housing is focusing on improving the Expo Line Transit Plan.

The city of Los Angeles is also in the process of creating or revising a number of community plans, transit corridor plans, the general plan, and zoning code. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for pro-housing Angelenos to get involved in these plans. One of our key policy goals is for Los Angeles to increase its zoned capacity to create more “room for homes” and relieve the tightness that contributes to low vacancy rates and rising rents.

We hope that you can provide feedback and/or attend meetings for a plan where you live or work so that planners know that Angelenos want more homes of all types. It is also great to get involved with plans throughout the city. The housing market is regional, and more homes anywhere in LA can help address the crisis.

The following list of plans that are being updated shows how many opportunities there are to help make a difference by pushing for plans that allow and encourage more homes of all types. We will try to update this list as more meetings are announced and as we develop analysis and recommendations for different plans. You can also sign up via the links below to get updates and announcements directly from the planners.

And if you are motivated to advocate on one or more of these plans, please get in touch and let us know! We are looking for our members and allies to provide local leadership on LA’s new plans.
Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan
The Expo line brought rail transit back to the westside for the first time in 60 years. The plan is going to the LA Planning Commission on November 9, 2017 at 11 am. We have an online action alert that you can use to send a letter encouraging more homes in the new plan.
You can also sign up for updates.

Orange Line Transit Neighborhood Plan
The Orange Line plan, focused near five stations (North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Sepulveda, Reseda and Sherman Way) is in an earlier stage than the Expo plan. There is a lot of low density zoning along this corridor that should be up-zoned. There is a meeting November 15 6-830 pm at Van Nuys City Hall, Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, 14410 Sylvan St, Van Nuys CA 91401 to get public feedback on their initial concept.
You can also sign up for updates.

Purple Line Transit Neighborhood Plan
There is a meeting November 16, 6pm to 8pm at Pan Pacific Senior Activity Center, 141 S Gardner St., LA 90036 focused on potential land use changes near three future purple line stations at Wilshire/ La Brea, Wilshire/ Fairfax and Wilshire/ La Cienega. These are great locations for more housing.
You can also sign up for updates.

Downtown LA Community Plans
DTLA2040 is the City’s process to update the two community plan covering downtown Los Angeles. Downtown has obviously been one of the places where the most new homes have been built in recent years, and there is a potential to encourage even more if mixed use development is allowed in some underused industrial areas.
You can sign up for updates and send comments.

Hollywood Community Plan
An update to the Hollywood Community Plan was passed a few years ago but was overturned through a lawsuit by anti-development groups. The city is trying again and we should encourage them to allow even more homes than the first version.
You can sign up for updates and send comments.

Boyle Heights Community Plan
Boyle Heights is already relatively built up area for a residential community but there should be space for more homes on boulevards and in industrial areas.
You can sign up for updates and submit comments.

Southwest Valley Community Plans
The first set of plans to start updates under the city’s recent commitment to accelerate new community plans are three plan areas in the Southwest San Fernando Valley:
Canoga Park-Winnetka- Woodland Hills-West Hills, Encino-Tarzana, and Reseda-West Van Nuys.
You can sign up for updates and fill in a short survey.

South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles Community Plans
The South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles Community plans were recently passed by the city planning commission and will likely be heard by the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee in November 2017.  The opportunity for major changes in these plans may be past, but comments could be sent to the PLUM committee and full council.

General Plan
Ourla2040 is the City’s process to update its general plan. They are currently seeking input on open space and culture but will also establish a framework that is supposed to guide land use rules in community plans.
You can sign up for updates.

Zoning Code
Re:codeLA is the process to fully update LA’s zoning code for the first time in 70 years.
You can provide comments and check for updates and events.


Abundant Housing letter on draft Expo Line Plan

expo line map

 

The Expo Line Transit Neighborhood Plan is being heard by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission on November 9, 2017 at 11 am. Abundant Housing LA has been advocating for changes to the plan to allow more homes of all types.

We encourage pro-housing Angelenos to click on our action alert, which will allow you to quickly send a message to the Planning Commission.

We also encourage you to attend the planning commission meeting on the 9th to testify in person on the need to allow more homes and better rules near six expo line stations.

The action alert provides key pro-housing recommendations for the draft Expo line plan. We also wanted to share the letter that we sent to the Commission. It provides more context on the need for a bolder plan and justification for the recommendations. It opens:

“Dear City Planning Commissioners,

We encourage you to amend the draft Expo Line Transit Neighborhood Plan (TNP) to make it a bolder plan worthy of leveraging our major investments in new transit, addressing the severity of the housing crisis gripping Los Angeles, and taking advantage of the opportunity to evolve transit-adjacent neighborhoods to become more sustainable, walkable and diverse places.”

download the full letter >

AHLA Letter to CPC on Expo plan


Support the Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance

star apartments

Skid Row Housing Trust’s Star Apartments during construction

(see end of post for how to comment on draft ordinance)

The City of Los Angeles is seeking feedback on its draft Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance (read the FAQ and the draft ordinance).  The proposed rules would accelerate the approval of, and therefore the construction and inhabitation of, permanent supportive housing for homeless residents. Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is housing for homeless individuals or households that is not time-limited (that is, unlike many shelters, residents can stay there as long as they need to) and that includes services to help residents.

Abundant Housing LA strongly supports this ordinance. We supported and campaigned for City of LA Proposition HHH to fund the construction of more permanent supportive homes as well as LA County Measure H to fund services. We also happy that LA City has started to identify underutilized public properties as opportunity sites for permanent supportive and/or affordable housing.

Funding for PSH, more money for services, and free public land on which to build PSH could be a very powerful combination to help house homeless Angelenos. More supportive homes are badly needed given that last year homelessness increased 23 percent in LA County and 20 percent in LA city.

Unfortunately, these positive investments can be bogged down by local opposition to new permanent supportive housing. Our politicized planning system allows a few opponents to delay or veto badly needed homes even when large majorities of voters supported funding for more housing and services. This is why the Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance is a good law.

1. The ordinance raises the site plan review threshold for PSH from 50 units to 120 units (and 200 in downtown LA).  This means that larger PSH projects could proceed without needing to go through an environmental review process, require approval from the City Planning Commission and City Council, or face legal challenges and delays under CEQA.  Making more PSH projects ‘by right’ will help them get built quicker and help get more Angelenos off of the streets into good housing.
2. Instead of a politicized process, where people who already have homes can go to meetings and try to stop new dwellings for the homeless, the PSH ordinance requires common sense standards for design and construction. For example, the ordinance mandates how much space is required to be dedicated for services and common space in a PSH development; and requires testing and mitigation of soil if the site was previously used by a polluting industry.
3. The ordinance grant permanent supportive housing projects incentives similar to what are available for density bonus and transit oriented communities developments (higher density limits and height, reduced parking requirements and setbacks, etc. These incentives will help house more Angelenos, a vital goal given the city and region’s surging homelessness.
4. Allowing developments of permanent supportive housing on sites zoned public facilities using the zoning of nearby property, and allowing conversion/ replacement of residential hotels to permanent supportive housing regardless of underlying zoning are other good features to expedite badly-needed housing.

The City is seeking comments on the draft ordinance. To have your input considered for the planning staff recommendation report, contact cally.hardy@lacity.org by October 30, 2017. If you have comments after the 30th, email the planning commission at cpc@lacity.org


Chelsea Byers joining Abundant Housing LA steering committee

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We’re excited to announce that Chelsea Byers has joined the Abundant Housing LA Steering Committee as our Director of Organizing!

Chelsea will be helping Abundant Housing members across the city get involved in their local communities and neighborhood councils to advocate for more housing and lower rents. By providing resources, coordination, and training support, Chelsea will help our members to improve Los Angeles one community at a time.

Many crucial decisions about housing  in Los Angeles are made at the hyper-local level. Each individual neighborhood council has significant influence over zoning and development in their neighborhood, and even a single pro-housing voice on each council can make a big difference. Even more importantly, as few as 7-10,000 votes can win a city council race, so even a small number of dedicated local pro-housing activists can have a big impact on election and policies. With 100 active volunteers in each council district, we’d tip the scales of Los Angeles politics for decades to come. We could not be more excited for Chelsea to take on this project and join the steering committee!

Chelsea has a long background in progressive organizing work on a wide variety of issues. In addition to her work with Abundant Housing, Chelsea is the Chair of the Campaign to End the Statute of Limitations on Rape and Sexual Assault and a member of the Speakers Justice Bureau through the Community Justice Reform Coalition. She has organized dozens of public demonstrations for social justice, held vigils for political prisoners and whistleblowers, and earned media at the 2016 Republican National Convention for gun violence prevention advocacy.
If you’re interested in getting more involved in Abundant Housing LA, please consider applying for our steering committee. We have three positions open.


Strong AND Gentle: creative tension in housing advocacy

place it 1

design housing solutions workshop participants, photo by James Rojas

The French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss wrote a book called The Raw and the Cooked focused on “categorical opposites drawn from everyday experience.” 

It may be that housing advocacy needs to value a similar binary.

YIMBY advocates have started to build political strength in order to support proposed housing and better rules. This means contesting for power at the political level, at hearing, online, etc. This ‘strong’ approach to movement building and advocacy is absolutely essential. But is it enough?
 
Planner and artist James Rojas has talked to us (steering committee member Mark V.) about “a gentler approach to housing.”  By gentle, he means techniques that draw upon peoples’ empathy, memories, and imagination to change attitudes and encourage more openness to adding housing.

His Place It! workshops let participants build models with everyday objects to encourage more participatory and creative planning. In James’ words, “Building with objects makes the participants use their motor skills. Intangible thoughts became tangible.” We spoke about the Design Housing Solutions workshop he and a group of urban planners and housing advocates recently led at the American Planning Association Planning conference in Sacramento.Jonathan P. Bell, Gunnar Hand, Fay Darmawi, Cathy Creswell and Connie Chung collaborated with Rojas on the session to investigate approaches to pubic engagement on housing.

When James facilitates workshops, he often starts by asking participants to quickly build “their first memory of belonging, shelter or home” in fifteen minutes, and then share what they made and the underlying memory with the group. James reported that “these memories tended to be happy emotions of belonging, place and home” and that by forming this memory out of blocks, toys and other small objects, participants “uncover knowledge about their enduring landscape and realize they have the expertise to shape it.”

This is certainly a better starting point than the tension, negativity and frustration that often infuses public hearings about housing developments.

After the icebreaker and self reflection activity, participants are prepared to work in groups to build models of housing developments. In James’ words:

“The communal nature of this process provided a platform that everyone participated. By giving teams little instructions they developed a variety of solutions based on their understanding of their built environment. Through building together participants quickly communicated and tested their visual and spatial housing ideas. Through negotiations, new ideas emerged.  In no time the housing models began to take shape and illustrated solutions for their imaginary communities.”

Exercises like this that draw upon positive emotions and let people act creatively to collaborate to design homes should be a part of the pro-housing toolkit. We still need to build power, and to use data and messaging to change minds. But winning hearts (and thinking of housing as a shared goal to add to the quality of communities, rather than a battleground) can also benefit from a gentler approach.


Abundant Housing’s policy agenda for the City of LA

Earlier this year we surveyed our members on what housing policies and funding sources they thought would help Los Angeles address its housing crisis. Our new policy committee, which brings together members and supporters with expertise in policy analysis, architecture, construction management, local government, research and writing on land use, advocacy, teaching, small scale development, urban planning (and living in and caring about LA!), worked from these responses as a starting point, and recommended a local policy agenda with 15 points.

The agenda is ‘time-stamped’ August 2017 because we know that conditions and opportunities change, and we will be flexible in pursuing opportunities and adapting our agenda to the city and region’s needs. What we want to stress is that:

A. No single fix can address LA’s housing crisis. To achieve a city with space for all our diverse residents, we need a multi- faceted package of reforms.

B. We believe that an impactful package of pro-housing reforms must:

  1. make ‘more room’ for homes;
  2. make it easier and faster to build homes;
  3. raise money for affordable homes;
  4. protect tenants; and
  5. encourage innovation.

You can download the agenda below. In coming weeks, we will profile some of the ideas in more detail.

Abundant Housing LA 2017 policy agenda


Letter from a Reluctant Gentrifier


Who Moves Into New Housing, And Why?

Homes at Franklin Ave & Las Palmas in Hollywood. Photo by Ian Freimuth.

For anti-housing advocates, new market-rate housing isn’t a part of the solution to the affordability crisis, but the cause of it. New housing, they argue, attracts higher income residents from outside the city, and those new residents drive speculation, rent hikes, and further redevelopment that displaces vulnerable households. They also create demand for new low wage jobs that provide goods and services, which exacerbates the affordable housing shortfall.

This was one of the key arguments made by Measure S supporters to stoke fear and outrage among Angelenos concerned about spiraling housing costs and homelessness: Additional supply begets additional demand, all in service of outsiders and the moneyed elite, and all at the expense of existing residents.

This conclusion depends on the premise that new housing draws in residents from other cities. If it’s not attracting out-of-towners, then the homes are serving locals who would be looking for a home whether or not the new housing was built. It would also mean that the demand for low wage jobs doesn’t increase when new housing is built, because the people generating that demand already live here. And if they already live here, it should be uncontroversial that they need a place to live, right?

For those reasons, it’s essential to understand whether the basic premise of this anti-housing argument is correct. Does new housing mainly serve to attract residents from other regions? As you’ll read below, an intuitive understanding of housing choice doesn’t align with that interpretation, and neither does the data.

Warehouse space converted to condos in the Arts District. Photo by Rod Ramsey.

Who’s moving into new housing?

The most fundamental question we can ask about new homes is this: Who are they for? The assumption by slow-growthers is that new housing is mostly for someone else, whether it’s snobby out-of-towners, wealthy globalists looking for a place to park their cash, or some other distasteful construct. It’s not for us, it’s for them.

Here’s what the best data available says: For the LA metro area, 68% of those who recently moved into new housing (built 2010 or later) came from within 50 miles of their new residence. That means over two-thirds of households living in new homes came from another home in the LA area.

For housing built between 2000 and 2009, 88% of recently-moved residents are from within 50 miles. The people moving into newer housing are overwhelmingly Angelenos, not interlopers.* They are you and me, and they need a place to live just like anyone else. Imagine where those 88% would be living if we’d built even fewer homes in the 2000s.

All of these newly-relocated households are making space for someone else in the home they just left behind. (Or they’re forming a new household by breaking away from roommates or leaving their parents’ home, which is great too.) New housing is typically more expensive than other options on the market, so it’s a safe bet that these residents’ previous homes are more affordable than their new ones. However it is a proven fact that many prefer to buy a new house that repair their current one. They might see it as an easier and faster solution, not many have the time or are willing to argue with their contractor on how to lay tiles in your shower room for instance.

Even if some people are downsizing into newer units, such as when an empty-nester couple moves from a single-family home to a less expensive condo, they’re doing us a favor. They’re making that home available to larger or younger families that can make better use of its space, or they’re giving a developer an opportunity to turn it into more (and more affordable) places for people to live. New condos selling for $500,000-600,000 are out of reach for many LA area households, but they’re within the grasp of far more families than a million dollar single family home. By promoting the density bonus and other incentives for these projects, we can get income-restricted units out of the bargain and extend the benefit of more housing to families living at a wide range of incomes.

So the Census confirms that most residents of new housing are from the region, and that’s important. When we don’t build enough housing, those people lose out on choices. And when they don’t have as many choices, they go looking for older, less expensive housing as the next-best option.

We’ve covered the 68%, but maybe you’re thinking that that leaves about 32% who aren’t from here. What’s their deal?

Newly-built homes at Broadway and Lincoln in Santa Monica. Photo by Ollie Siebelt.

Why do people move to a new city?

32% of those living in the newest homes are from outside LA, but how does development of new housing play a role in their decision to move here? For this question, it’s probably best to think about your own experiences and those of your friends and family.

If you’ve ever moved to a new city, just ask yourself: At what point did home selection enter into the decision to move? Did you say to yourself, “Wow, I saw they built this amazing new apartment building in Hollywood. I’ve gotta get out of Omaha and into one of those units.” Probably not. (But if so, please get a hold of us because you are a fascinating specimen and we’d like to study you further.)

For most of us, choosing exactly what home to rent or buy is one the last decisions in the difficult process of pulling up stakes and settling in a new city. We move to take a great new job, or to go off to college, or to chase our dreams for reasons that have very little to do with housing availability. We take the leap, then we figure out the rest as we go.

To the extent that housing choices do factor into our decision, it’s to figure out if we can actually afford to live in the new city. Most of the time we first decide that we want to move, then we decide if we can. Quite obviously, the supply of new market-rate housing isn’t going to be the thing that deters us. If we’re price sensitive, we’re not looking at new housing anyway. What could deter us, and absolutely does for thousands every year, is a housing shortage that’s driven up the price for homes of every age and quality. Our exclusionary housing policies pose no barrier to higher-income migrants from other cities, but they work better than any border wall at blocking out new low and moderate income households.

When we look at the data as well as our own personal experiences, the argument that new housing is attracting rich people and impoverishing existing renters simply strains credulity. It’s a convenient fiction that we need to move beyond. People move to Texas for the cheap housing; they don’t move to LA for the expensive stuff. So long as people keep moving to our city—and it’s a great place to live, so why wouldn’t they?—we need to keep building more housing of all kinds.


*Note: We don’t buy into the kind of exclusionary thinking that pits existing residents against future ones. It’s a zero sum solution in a world with a whole variety of positive solutions available, and it diminishes the spirit to approach community planning, and life in general, in such an us-versus-them fashion. We are engaging with the argument not to give it credibility, but to show how anti-housing arguments fail to stand up even on their own terms.