Measure S Would Make a Bad Housing Shortage Even Worse

According to the Measure S campaign literature, the city is being “overdeveloped” by greedy billionaires and corrupt politicians. Their initiative is framed as an effort to reign in out-of-control housing development.

The highly visible development in places like Hollywood and downtown LA belies an entirely different truth, however: Los Angeles has been under-building housing for nearly 30 years, and the decade since 2010 may produce the least new housing in at least 80 years.

Data from the American Community Survey shows that between 1940 and 1990, LA built between 150,000 and 250,000 homes each decade. In the decades since, we’ve averaged fewer than 100,000. A very large proportion of the units planned for this decade are focused in just a few communities, while most of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods have essentially closed themselves to newcomers.


For each year since 1990, LA’s population has grown on average 19.6% faster than its housing supply, and the imbalance has had disastrous consequences for housing affordability and accessibility. As the housing-population ratio spins further out of balance, landlords and property owners are able to take advantage of the housing shortage to charge more for rents and home prices, while renters and first-time home buyers suffer.

A 2015 report by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office claims that L.A. County built 1 million fewer homes than were needed to keep housing prices in line with average U.S. growth rates over the past 30 years. The latest data from the Census Bureau puts LA’s rental vacancy rates at historic lows of less than 3%, which has empowered landlords to raise rents on existing homes and has driven up the cost of new development. Of the most crowded 1% of census tracts in the U.S., about half are in Los Angeles County. These are the symptoms of a housing shortage, not an oversupply.

Don’t listen to the Measure S campaign’s false rhetoric: Los Angeles isn’t full, and it isn’t being overdeveloped. New housing is exactly what’s needed to relieve overcrowding and create new affordable units, and stopping development will just mean more misery, rising rents, and homelessness. We can do better than the lies and misrepresentations that Measure S is feeding us.

You can find more rebuttals to Measure S lies and misrepresentations below: