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Is LA Rent Too Damn High?

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A new advocacy group says yes—and it's throwing a pizza party to talk about it

Recent studies leave little doubt that Los Angeles rental prices are out of control. Just last month, an analysis from Apartment List found rental prices in the city soared 55 percent between 1980 and 2014, while income levels only increased 13 percent. Meanwhile, Forbes recently ranked LA as the fifth-worst US city for renters. But what’s driving rents up, and what can we do about it?

Concerned Angelenos can discuss those topics over pizza Thursday at an event hosted by Abundant Housing LA, a group that advocates for more development in order to supplement the city’s supply of housing—thereby easing demand. Last week, the organization announced, via Twitter, that it would be hosting an "LA Rent is Too Damn High Party" July 7 at Pitfire Pizza in Downtown LA.

Brent Gaisford, who helped organize the party, says it’s an opportunity to raise awareness about the many "small ways that LA housing prices get decided." Specifically, he wants pro-development affordable housing advocates to make their presence felt at the countless community events, council meetings, and planning commission hearings in which the fates of most development projects are decided.

Gaisford also writes a blog, called LA Rent is Too Damn High (no relation to the New York political party led by Jimmy McMillan). In a recent article, he argues that a shortage of new development on the Westside is the source of gentrification and displacement in other parts of the city.

"Neighborhoods across the Westside need to pitch in, upzone, and do their part to accommodate LA’s growing population," he writes. "The South and Eastside need to do the same, and allow construction of large, new buildings so all the new people who move in aren’t replacing existing residents."

That’s not a sentiment likely to sit well with the city’s many preservation-minded community groups and political organizations—not to mention most backers of the stringently anti-development Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. But Gaisford acknowledges that efforts to build the amount of housing needed to drive down prices will face plenty of resistance. If you’re interested in joining or opposing him in that fight, he and the Abundant Housing LA team will be waiting at Pitfire Thursday.