• Tue. Jun 21st, 2022

The latest false allegations to clean up speculative real estate investments


PLANNING WATCH – If you went to a doctor with serious illness and they recommended an unapproved miracle cure, you might be intrigued, but once you got out you would look for another doctor.

Yet this is the approach of the Los Angeles Times and the Department of City Planning to the worsening housing crisis. They still come up with the same old zoning “solutions” without evidence.

This repetition of recycled proposals was fully manifested this week in a LA Times editorial on housing and town planning awareness materials for updating the housing element of LA. They both argue that Los Angeles can remedy its housing crisis – expressed in emigration, overcrowding and homelessness – by watering down the city’s zoning laws. This aid to investors is supposed to encourage them to build more housing. This induced real estate boom will then reduce rents by the magic of supply and demand.

According to the latest LA Times editorial accommodation, “. . .Llocal zoning in too many cities severely restricts sites for denser housing, including apartments and townhouses. This is how the LA archival document recycles the baseless claim that homelessness is primarily a result of a housing shortage, not a lack of money for people priced out. of price.

This is the same message that the LA Department of Planning presented in their webinars on the housing element. That’s what an LA Times writer took away from this webinar.

“Recently I attended a webinar given by the City of Los Angeles Planning Department, and some of the statistics they shared highlighted the need to change the zoning of single-family homes in order to accommodate more people.

In Los Angeles, 57% of the land is used for residential housing, 70% of which is zoned for single-family homes. Last year, the largest number of new units built were for high-income residents. The average rent is well above what most people can afford, and people live in crowded housing to share the costs.

Changing the zoning to limit single-family areas will allow more flexibility. The alternatives are more people on the streets or the expansion of the city in endangered environments. Both are unacceptable.

While the term overzoning never appears in public town planning documents, it is spread through obscuring language. For example, the housing element project Program 121 calls for up-zoning without using the word. Ditto for programs 46,48, 49, 50, 61, 65 and 81.

Program 121: The rezoning program is expected to be implemented through a number of work efforts, including updates to up to 16 community plans (four West LA plans and six SE / SW Valley plans, two Downtown plans, Boyle Heights, Hollywood, Harbor-Gateway and Wilmington), two specific plans (CASP and Slauson TNP), as well as at least one city-wide ordinance that will create additional zoning capacity through expansion of affordable housing incentive programs (see Program 48) or other zoning code changes.

Four problems: There are at least four major problems with the LA Times’ overzoning and town planning solution to the housing crisis.

First, single-family zoning no longer exists. Homeowners can legally build a separate lot at the market rate of 1,200 square feet Accessory housing unit for the elderly (ADU) in their garden. The only constraint is the location of the power lines. They can also add a separate 500 square foot accessory junior housing unit to their home and a small house on wheels to their backyard. Together, this means that four separate housing units are already permitted on lots that were previously limited to one house.

Second, Los Angeles has no shortage of zoning which automatically authorizes the apartments. In Los Angeles each commercial area and three of the six manufacturing zones allow apartment buildings. Accordingly, the construction of LA existing zoning would increase LA’s population from 3.9 to 7.2 million people. If the ADU and density bonus options are factored in, LA’s zoning construction population would be 9 million people.

In addition, the LA Transit-oriented guidelines allow residential developers to double the size (FAR) and density of a building, and also reduce on-site parking. These density bonuses are granted through administrative approval by the LA Department of Building and Safety. No owner or resident nearby ever receives a notice. As for public hearings, decision-making meetings and appeals against these projects, they no longer exist. In addition, developers can also request more height for a project, knowing that this discretionary approval is good as gold.

Third, there is no shortage of rental housing in LA. For rent signs are on display in apartment buildings in Los Angeles, as well as in neighboring cities. These vacant units will never house the homeless because the homeless cannot pay their rent. Even though LA’s minimum wage is $ 15 / hour, a tenant must earn $ 37 / hour to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment in LA. To buy a basic house, an Angelino needs a annual salary of $ 127,000 ($ 61 / hour), depending on The braked.

Fourth, overzoning does not produce affordable housing. Overzoning increases property values, which increases the cost of infill housing. Based on current trends, new market-priced homes are selling fast, while apartments have consistently high vacancy rates. While landlords are now offering potential tenants such teasers as a free monthly rate, they will never reduce rents to the point that homeless people can afford.

There is no mystery as to the gap between vacant homes and those in need of housing. the Explanation of the vacancy report rings totally true.

“We are not building enough affordable housing. While luxury construction is booming, affordable housing construction is not. Amid mass evictions and displacement, a persistent lack of very affordable housing construction has resulted in a shortage of more than 500,000 affordable units in Los Angeles County. The gap between homes that are most needed and homes under construction continues to widen, intensifying an unprecedented affordable housing crisis. “

Why then do developers build expensive housing when there is massive unmet demand for affordable housing in Los Angeles? The answer is that real estate investors know they are getting the highest rate of return on market-priced apartments built in neighborhoods close to places of employment, recreation and commerce. This is why real estate investors are pushing for higher zoning in these prime neighborhoods, then flipping their most valuable property or building luxury housing. The culprit is their business model. Like all investors, they want to maximize their profits, which is also why they lobby for overzoning and related zoning giveaways.

(Dick Platkin is a former Los Angeles city planner who reports on local planning issues for CityWatch. He sits on the board of directors of United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles. (UN4LA) and co-chairs the new Greater Fairfax Residents Association. The previous Planning Watch columns are available on the site CityWatchLA Archives. Please send your questions and corrections to [email protected].) Prepared for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.