|Ex Mayor Richard Riordon|
LA Housing in Very Short Supply - No Vacant Land Either!
What is a city to do? Every inch of available land that anyone cares about has a building on it of some kind. Napa and some other cities have tried, unsuccessfully, to stop progress. The reality is that with shifting demographics, changing work force requirements, and one of the best places to live on earth, Los Angeles is going to continue to see pressure to add housing units.
But for the foreseeable future, there just isn't enough product on the market to meet the demand. So prices are skyrocketing, and sleepy neighborhoods like Echo Park and Eagle Rock are all the rage. Industrial and commercial buildings are being leveled to create residential units. It still isn't enough.
Ex Mayor Richard Riordon says it is time to start a conversation about how to plan for the future growth of Los Angeles. He suggests that "It’s quite possible that we want this process to continue, if only because most of the regulatory steps necessary to contain it would be draconian and, in the end, economically harmful. That said, there are things we should be doing to ameliorate gentrification’s impact and, at the least, to make sure it doesn’t displace more of the working poor and middle-class families crucial to a healthy civic culture and economy."
In other words, It might be really great to have all of Los Angeles look and feel like Santa Monica or Marina Del Rey, but where will the folks who install your TV and pick up your trash live? How will newly minted high school or even college grads be able to stay here with rents starting at $1000 a month if their income is only $2000 a month.
Riordon points out in an opinion piece recently co-authored by Tim Rutton in the Los Angeles Daily News that other cities are experimenting with 300 square foot single apartments and 600 sq ft family units that are designed to house the middle class and working poor:
"If the city really wants to help these families, it needs to go beyond making land available in areas close to jobs and public transit. It also ought to revise its zoning regulations to allow greater densities on the banked parcels and, particularly, family-sized variations on the sort of well-designed micro units that have proven quite successful in the Bay Area and Seattle. Because those spaces were designed primarily for single renters, most are just 250-300 square feet each, incorporating a kitchen, bath, closet and living space. The latter often is fitted out with multipurpose built-in units — say, fold-down murphy beds or a table that can double for dining and as a desk. Affordable developments in Los Angeles will need to incorporate a substantial number of “family-sized” units of 600 square feet or more.
Depending on the mix of sizes and assuming the construction of three-story buildings, 150-200 such compact apartments can comfortably fit into an acre of land at a construction cost of less than $60,000 each. A banked three-acre site adjacent to a transit hub might contain two such structures and a one-acre park to provide a common garden and recreation space for all the residents. There’s nothing mutually incompatible about affordability and a decent living environment — and freed of outdated regulation, private development can provide both."
The issue is not whether the Los Angeles is going to need more residential units, the issue is whether the various governmental units are going to proactively plan for the future, or whether the marketplace is going to dictate the future in a more hectic fashion. Depending on your point of view, you might argue that one or the other is preferable. However, it is likely that a combination of public and private is what will serve the Los Angles Population the best.
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LA CA 90025