The USC Price School of Public Policy hosted a panel Tuesday on ways to improve the LA housing affordability crisis, which stems from a rent and property rate hike due to a high demand for housing.
With one of the fastest-growing populations in the nation, Los Angeles added 160,000 new residents between 2010 and 2015. The California Department of Finance estimated that LA's population reached a record high of 4 million people in 2016. Because of this surge in residents, there are fewer spots available for people to live in the city.
Gail Goldberg, the executive director of the Urban Land Institute, Shane Phillips, the policy director for Abundant Housing LA, Damien Goodmon, founder and director of the non-profit Crenshaw Subway Coalition, and Mott Smith, principal of developing group Civic Enterprise, pooled together their experience and expertise to address solutions to the affordable housing problem.
The obvious answer for most panelists was to build more housing. Because LA is already behind on its supply of housing, thousands of units would need to be built each year to stabilize rent. Goodmon said that California is short 100,000 units. The housing crisis could become a permanent problem in the next decade unless there is more development.
"We're not building enough housing," Goodmon said. He proposed increased development around transit centers and getting rid of the parking requirement to lower development costs and make room for more units. At the beginning of the panel he said that while incomes are staying constant, rents are increasing 20 to 30 percent.
LA's community plans and zoning code are very dated — most of the community plans are around 15 years old and the zoning code is 71 years old. Because zoning is outdated, getting plans approved on a project by project basis has become the primary practice of planning commissioners. This habit has led to poor design and "haphazard development."
"We're past the point where incremental development is not realistic," Phillips said, especially because of the lack of existing housing.
Because Measure S, a bill that slows the development of housing in Los Angeles, was rejected, experts are looking for ways to speed up housing construction so that property prices will drop.
Smith said that controlling building to promote a certain community goal won't help. "You can't control who moves into your neighborhood by controlling what you build in that neighborhood," he said.
Part of the solution, according to Goldberg, is to focus on an overall plan for LA rather than a community based approach.
"We sometimes forget it's not just about planning communities, it's about planning a whole city," Gail Goldberg said. She said a better vision for the entire city will help with housing affordability.