We have a living problem in Los Angeles that is prevalent in all the large coastal metropolitan areas of California. The cost of housing is too high for many families.
Los Angeles County has added more than 475,000 jobs since the depths of the Great Recession, and it’s expected to gain another 334,200 jobs by 2020 according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. in a report they just released. The families that have these jobs cannot afford most of the housing in this area.
The L.A. County report notes that more than a third of the county’s projected job openings over the next five years will require workers without a high school diploma and no work experience. Another 30 percent will go to people with a high school diploma or the equivalent with no work experience.
As the number of jobs has grown so has the number of new apartments throughout the area. The problem is that the new housing is renting for what the builders and owners say are “market rates.” Those are rates that I call “unaffordable rates.” Despite the need for affordable dwellings the cities and towns of the Los Angeles metropolitan area have approved the construction of those unaffordable units for those obtaining the new jobs.
In my own community the local community council approved a 150 unit development that consists of one bedroom, two bedroom, and three bedroom units. The two bedroom units are going to rent for $2,200 per month. Older two bedroom units are currently renting for $1,500 to $1,700 per month.
Rendition of Apartment House Proposed in Silver Lake District
Developers seem to think that 10% of their new projects devoted to “affordable housing” is sufficient. A 33 unit project in my community includes 3 affordable units. A proposed 67-unit apartment complex in Silver Lake area includes seven of the units to be reserved for “very low-income residents.”
Citing an affordable housing crisis of “epic proportions,” the California Supreme Court made it easier Monday for cities and counties to require developers to sell some housing at below-market rates. The unanimous decision, written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, follows study after study documenting a lack of affordable housing in the state, especially in California’s coastal regions.
The decision clears the way for Los Angeles and other cities to require developers to sell a percentage of the units they build at below -market rates as condition of a building permit. Developers also could be given the option of paying into a fund for low-cost housing.
Where is the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles County Supervisors? There is no law that requires affordable housing in new developments. The city will permit variances to zoning and use that as an opportunity to require affordable housing.