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Los Angeles's NIMBY Problem is Causing Its Housing Problem

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NIMBYs are destroying Los Angeles, says economist Christopher Thornberg in an LA Times op-ed. Starting with the example of CasdenWestLA, the huge Expo Line-adjacent mixed-user that was scaled way back last month, he argues that the city's housing shortage is a major economic threat, and that it's all the fault of residents who refuse to allow city-scale development. He writes: "Amazingly, the same people and politicians leading the charge against developers trying to build badly needed homes in the Los Angeles region are also the ones who complain that the highways are too crowded, who rail that their children cannot afford a home in their neighborhood and wonder why some businesses choose to leave for other destinations." (UCLA put out a report last fall about how the average Los Angeles worker can't actually afford to live in Los Angeles.) And they're not just leading charges, he says, they're often winning: NIMBY groups "wield a disproportionate amount of power and threaten even 'smart' projects. They delay projects by years and drive up the costs because of legal fees, lobbying and political contributions."

And boy are you going to like Thornberg's conclusion: Los Angeles needs to be densified. His specific approach to that is a mix of pro-business and practical measures, like reducing permitting fees and reforming the easily-abusable California Environmental Quality Act (which makes it easy to challenge developments). But ultimately the idea is to abandon the outdated idea of Souther California as a sprawling suburb with only bungalows and wide-open boulevards as far as the eye can see. LA's a city now.
· How NIMBYs hurt California [LAT]
· The Average LA Worker Still Can't Actually Afford to Live in LA [Curbed LA]