What’s next: More housing, neighborhood by neighborhood

March 7th was a big day for the future of LA. Measure H passed to provide services for the homeless, and Measure S failed in a historic landslide. Across both measures, 70% of Los Angeles voters made it clear that LA can still change, that we can become a more affordable, equitable city.

And we didn’t just win the vote. We have the momentum. There are now more than 700 of us in Abundant Housing, with more joining the community every day. The campaign also helped us build partnerships with the other organizations that we fought beside, and with labor, business, transit, and affordable housing advocates working together, we can, and will, change things for the better.

So, that begs the big question. Now that we’ve got the momentum, how do we move toward the long term vision of more affordable housing, less displacement, and a more vibrant city for all Angelenos? Over the last few weeks, dozens of people put forward suggestions and weighed in, and we’re really excited about where we’ve ended up. Without further ado:

Upzoning community plans. 35 community plans dictate what can be built on every parcel in LA, and they’re each going to be updated every 6 years. As they are updated, we need to make sure they are upzoned to allow more housing to be built across the city. To that end, we’re going to create policy recommendations which can be included and adapted into in all plan updates, as well as a playbook for how to influence each individual plan. From there, it’s all about local leaders heading up the fight in their neighborhood. If you’d like to step up and take the lead or get involved in your community, let us know here!

Upzoning transit plans. As new transit lines open, the surrounding plans are updated around the new stations. Similarly to the community plan updates, let’s make sure those plans allow for lots of new housing to drive down rents and help people get out of their cars and onto public transit. Similarly to the community plans, let us know if you want to help take the lead or join the team on transit plan updates in your area.

Win locally by getting more involved in neighborhood councils. You may have noticed a theme to the big objectives above – it’s all about winning local fights, neighborhood by neighborhood. Neighborhood councils are often dominated by NIMBYs (although good people are already fighting the pro-housing fight across the city), but that sounds like a temporary problem to us. Let us know if you want to get involved in your local NC!

Keep supporting projects. Don’t stop when you got a good thing going. So we’re going to keep fighting for projects which will create more affordable and market rate housing to alleviate the crisis. That means writing letters in support of projects and attending public meetings to counter the NIMBYs who always come out of the woodwork.

State level advocacy. We’re getting bigger, so we’re starting to have some ability to sway state level legislation. So let’s sway. We’re going to be tracking and supporting good state level legislation (and opposing bad legislation), as well as developing deeper relationships with other pro-housing advocacy orgs across the state.

We’re pretty excited about the next chapter, but changing the trajectory of housing growth in LA is not going to be easy. Because Abundant Housing LA is all-volunteer, things will only happen if we all step up and lead together. So, as always, if you have a great idea or want to weigh in, please let us know, just drop anyone on the steering committee a line!


Los Angeles Housing Development Update, 4Q 2016

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.


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Welcome to the second installment of Abundant Housing LA’s new Quarterly Development Update™!

This is where we 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? How many of our new homes are single-family, large apartments/condos, or “missing middle” housing? And how are we doing on Mayor Garcetti’s goal of building 100,000 new homes in 8 years?

This time we’re looking at numbers through December 31st, 2016, the latest full quarter for which data is available. First up is a snapshot of overall permitting activity through the end of last year.

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Permitting for new units climbed each year from 2013 to 2015, but dipped a bit in 2016. That’s really unfortunate, given our crushing housing shortage. The good news is that we permitted more small and midsize multifamily homes (2-t0-4 units, 5-to-19, and 20-to-49), which often include fewer amenities and have better odds of filtering down to become more affordable over time. The bad news is that we built more single-family homes—many of them likely mansionizations—and we lost quite a bit of production from larger, 50+ unit buildings compared to the prior year.

Below is a table showing the chart’s underlying data.

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Next we break down what those 50+ unit buildings actually look like. Are they mostly apartments and condos with less than 100 homes, larger structures with 200+ units, or somewhere in between?

Similar to the earlier data, it looks like buildings on the smaller end of the spectrum (within this subset) saw some of the most significant growth: The number of homes permitted in 50-to-99 unit buildings grew from 8.8 to 13.5 percent of the total; meanwhile, housing permits fell for projects with 100-to-199 units and those with 200+ units.

Last, we take a look at progress on the mayor’s 100,000 unit goal.

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Things are looking good at 42 months into the 8-year horizon, with permits running somewhat ahead of the benchmark.

As we mentioned in our first development update, though, permits are not the same as completed units: It’s possible that some of the units permitted during this period will be delayed, and plans may be scrapped for some projects, leaving permitted homes indefinitely unbuilt. But it’s better to be ahead of the curve than behind it.

Then there’s the question of whether 100,000 units (12,500 per year) is even an adequate goal. We at Abundant Housing contend that it is not. Our plummeting rental vacancy rate, skyrocketing prices, overcrowding, and worsening homelessness crisis are all evidence that we’re failing to meet the demand for homes in Los Angeles. And given that most household formation in our city is coming from native-born children growing up and moving into their own homes, we can’t blame this on outsiders. It’s our problem to solve.

So what should our goal be? Mayoral candidate Mitchell Schwartz had an extremely aggressive plan—350,000 new homes over a 10-year period, with 500,000 more rehabbed or preserved over 15 years—that we wish had received more coverage during the campaign season. If the imminent threat of Measure S hadn’t been demanding everyone’s attention over the past 6 months (including our own), it very well may have received the attention it deserved. Schwartz’s plan was for 35,000 new homes per year, more than double the 16,700 units that were permitted in 2015. Is this a realistic goal? Maybe, maybe not. It’s more than we’ve built in any decade in LA’s history, but it’s also closer to the historical average than the housing numbers we’ve seen since 1990.

Either way, it’s a conversation we should be having: If 12,500 homes per year isn’t enough (it isn’t), what is? If 35,000/year became our new goal, what city rules and processes would need to change in order to achieve it? What would our city look like ten years hence? And how could we plan for those new homes in a way that protected renters and promoted greater access, health, safety, and opportunity for all of LA’s residents? With our community plans set to be updated on a regular six-year cycle, we’ll be pushing the city to ask (and answer) exactly these types of questions. We hope you’ll join us!


Every Organization You Trust Is Voting No On Measure S

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Los Angeles voters will be deciding on the fate of Measure S on March 7th, but many people are still unclear on what it seeks to do, or what it would actually achieve.

The rhetoric on each side is pretty extreme. According to the Yes campaign, Measure S will “save our neighborhoods” and create a city in which rents are affordable, evictions are stopped, and homelessness is ended. The No campaign describes the initiative in apocalyptic terms, describing it as a “housing ban” that would make the housing crisis even worse.

Who to believe? Here at Abundant Housing LA we’ve written plenty about our own views on Measure S. But don’t take our word for it. You should just listen to the experts.

So…

– If you’re concerned about how the construction of affordable housing is affected by Measure S, we recommend getting a hold of the smart, dedicated people at the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, who represent most of the affordable housing developers in LA and are voting No on Measure S.

– If reducing homelessness is one of your top priorities, lend an ear to some of the folks that have served our homeless neighbors for decades, including the United Way, Covenant House of CaliforniaSkid Row Housing TrustInner City Law Center, the Downtown Women’s Center, or the Los Angeles Mission, who are voting No on Measure S.

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– If evictions, gentrification, and tenant’s rights are your issue, have a chat with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)Alliance for Community TransitCoalition for Economic Survival, SAJEEast LA Community CorporationSoutheast Asian Community AllianceTRUST South LA, or Community Health Councils, who are all voting No.

– If you’re unsure about how Measure S will impact the environment, you might want to defer to the League of Conservation VotersNational Resources Defense Council, or Climate Resolve, who all recommend that you vote No.

– If living wage, stable jobs are your thing, your best bet is probably unions like the AFL-CIOSEIUIBEW, or UNITE HERE, whose members are voting No and want you to do the same.

– If you’re worried about how Measure S will affect the economy, the Chamber of Commerce usually knows their stuff, and if funding for essential government services is important to you, you might want to follow the lead of the LA Police Protective League and the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City—all of them are voting No.

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– If you’re a die-hard partisan, you could always just do what your political party tells you: Mayor Garcetti, along with both the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Los Angeles County are recommending a No vote on Measure S.

– And if you’re into the dispassionate, academic style, there are a couple dozen UCLA and USC professors, with expertise ranging from Urban Planning to African-American studies to Public Health, who would all like to see you vote No in March.

Meanwhile, Measure S was written and is fully financially backed by just one individual: Michael Weinstein, the controversial CEO of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who began this fight as a way to stop a residential tower from being built across the street from his 21st-floor office in Hollywood. A man with a history of wrong-headed crusades and with no record of experience or expertise in issues of city planning, homelessness, or affordable housing. But he’s got a great slogan (“Save Our Neighborhoods!”), so that’s something.

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You can explore the full No on Measure S coalition here, and we invite you to compare it against the Yes on S endorsements, here. When you’re finished browsing each, please fill out your vote-by-mail ballot and send it in, or commit to showing up at the polls to vote No on Measure S.


Who Should You Trust on Measure S? Look to the Endorsements.

The Measure S campaign and its financial backer, Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, have made a wide range of claims about how their March 7th initiative will “Save Our Neighborhoods.”

People like me have written at length about how Measure S would worsen the affordability landscape in LA, driving up homelessness and increasing displacement in existing neighborhoods. The LA Times Editorial Board concurs.

Who to trust, given such conflicting claims? Frankly, this is one of those rare times where you really don’t even need to listen to the arguments: just look at who’s endorsed each side.

On the “No” side you’ll find just about every local organization dedicated to affordable housing, homelessness, environmental protection, economic development, worker’s rights, and democratic values. On the “Yes” side, you’ll find… well, see for yourself: Continue Reading


2016 Was a Good Year For Abundant Housing in LA

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Happy 2017 from Abundant Housing LA!

Abundant Housing is a volunteer organization that supports more affordable and market-rate housing in the LA region in order to reduce rents for residents of all backgrounds, ages, and income levels. Thanks to everyone who made this a banner year—as an all-volunteer organization, we’re only as good as the work we collectively do!

Growing and evolving

We started the year with just five original members. We end the year with 375. On the one hand, that’s a good thing, because everybody needs more friends, and collectively we’re starting to get some real political power. On the other hand, it shows that high rents and the housing crisis are continuing to cause real problems, and people across LA are looking for solutions.

Last summer brought the first wave of new volunteers, who brought new energy and organized the first Abundant Housing LA meetings that were open to the public, allowing people interested in the group to learn more, socialize, and get involved. As we started to grow, it was time to get organized, so we officially formed the steering committee in October. You can learn more about the steering committee here—please reach out anytime, we’re always looking for good ideas and good people who want to lend a hand to help get things done! Continue Reading


Don’t Call It a Boom: Despite Uptick, LA Still Adding New Housing At a Snail’s Pace

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


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In mid-December we wrote that Los Angeles is well on its way to achieving Mayor Garcetti’s goal of building 100,000 new homes between 2013 and 2021. With development visibly picking up in neighborhoods throughout the city, we’ve been hearing from the media that LA is in the midst of a boom in housing development. (See here, here, here, or here.)

But is it, really?

We’ve permitted quite a few homes in a short period of time, so in that sense, yes, we’re booming. But permitted housing is not the same as built housing, and many entitled units don’t end up being built for years (or decades). And 3 or 4 years of rapid housing development won’t make up for 30+ years of underproduction, dating back to the late 80s and the passage of destructive anti-growth measures like Proposition U. Continue Reading


Los Angeles Housing Development Update, 3Q 2016

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


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We’re introducing a new feature here at Abundant Housing LA: quarterly updates on housing production in the City of Los Angeles. Our first edition goes through the third quarter of 2016, ending on September 30th.

Huge kudos are due to the Mayor’s office for creating the position of Chief Data Officer, a role held until late 2015 by Abhi Nemani, who brought Los Angeles’ open data rating to #1 in just one year. Transparent data is critical for government accountability and the ability of organizations like ours to track progress on important goals like housing production and affordability. So, first and foremost, credit where credit is due.

As this is the first installment in our quarterly housing update, we strongly encourage readers to provide feedback. Is there a data-set we should be using that isn’t reported here? Can the presentation of data be improved? We’re open to your recommendations and we intend for these updates to improve over time based on your input. Continue Reading


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