Among the many crises Los Angeles faces today—earthquakes, fire, technorati—its severe lack of housing is arguably the worst. Housing prices have skyrocketed and affordability has plummeted. There's not nearly enough housing being built, driving prices up further. Rent accounts for almost half the average renter's income and only 187 units are being built per 1,000 new residents. This graph, from UCLA grad student Greg Morrow's 700-page dissertation (completed in 2013), illustrates the problem succinctly.
As presently developed, Los Angeles is at 92 percent of its total capacity. Population has increased at a fairly steady clip since 1960; simultaneously, the maximum population allowed by the physical space has plummeted—LA had space for 10 million people in 1960 and for just 4.3 million in 2010. NIMBYs and frustratingly archaic zoning codes have made it unnecessarily difficult to build densely in Los Angeles, and single family houses have meanwhile eaten up nearly all of the land there is to eat. What we're left with today is a city in which "single-family homes control 80 percent of L.A.'s residential land while representing a far smaller proportion of the population," as noted by Josh Stephens in his well-reasoned breakdown of the situation.
Sooner or later, there needs to be a change in how Los Angeles deals with development and the single-family mafia. Mayor Garcetti has a plan to build a lot more housing; now the city and region need to actually make it happen. Otherwise this guy might just build a single house from Santa Monica to Alhambra. —Ian Grant
· How Much Does Los Angeles Have to Build to Get Out of Its Housing Crisis? [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles Housing Now More Screwed Up Than San Francisco [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles's Big Plan For Pulling Out of Its Housing Crisis [Curbed LA]