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Rents Already Soaring Along LA's Unopened Expo Line

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Prices close to the light rail stations that will open in May have risen as much as 45 percent

The new Expo Line light rail extension from Culver City to Santa Monica doesn't open until May, but rental prices are already way up along the new track. An analysis by RadPad shows that, on average, rents have risen nearly 15 percent in the neighborhoods around the forthcoming stations, with an increase of more than 45 percent at the Westwood Rancho Station. Both numbers far exceed the already sizable 11.6 percent jump in citywide rent prices that occurred in 2015.

The data comes from a study of rental prices for one-bedroom apartments along each of Los Angeles's future rail lines. In RadPad's analysis, rental prices along the Expo Line have jumped the most significantly in the past year, suggesting that the soon-to-be-operational rail system is luring renters to the area. Given the inaccessibility of homeownership for many Angelenos, and the nation-leading traffic woes, it is quite possible that some renters are willing to pay a premium for easy access to public transit.

A notable exception to this trend is downtown Santa Monica. While all other stations except Sepulveda saw a notable increase in rental prices, prices near the new Expo Line's final stop, just a few blocks from the beach, dropped more than 10 percent. Perhaps this is not surprising in an area where mistrust of the new rail line runs deep. Then again, it would be hard for the price of rent in prime Santa Monica to get much higher.

The results of RadPad's analysis correspond fairly well with a recent LA Times study of income levels near Metro stations. In general, the lowest rental prices can be found along the upcoming Crenshaw/LAX Line and the new Gold Line Extension, while the highest prices are those around future Purple Line subway stations. And while the extended Purple Line is still a ways off, rents around the Wilshire/Fairfax station are up more than 42 percent.

Interestingly, while the rental prices near the new stations on the Gold Line's foothill extension are actually slightly below rents close to the Crenshaw Line, the LA Times data suggests that income levels are significantly higher near the Gold Line stops.