U.S. Census Bureau data shows that permits for housing construction in the Los Angeles metropolitan area declined in 2016 for the first time in six years.
Housing units permitted in the region — Long Beach and Anaheim are also reflected in the data — totaled 32,008 last year, compared to 34,034 in 2015 — a 6 percent drop, KPCC reported.
The drop is the first since 2009, when the recession slowed new housing units to 7,281.
A 2014 study by UCLA concluded that Los Angeles is the most unaffordable rental market in the country, and one of the culprits is a lack of available units, as the city’s growth over the last several decades has outpaced construction.
Also contributing to the high rental market is that much of the new housing units being built in Los Angeles are expensive high-rises in the downtown area.
“Most of the housing stock is being built at the highest income strata. So it’s not like we’re building affordable units,” Paul Habibi, a developer who lectures on real estate at UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management, told KPCC.
The housing shortage has become a major issue at City Hall, in particular since Measure S, an anti-development ballot measure, was struck down by Los Angeles voters in March but still caused the City Council to pass a number of motions aimed at increasing transparency when it comes to developers’ influence.
Mayor Eric Garcetti set a goal in 2015 for the city to build 100,000 new units of housing by 2021. He acknowledged the housing crisis during a news conference in March, when he announced he was banning private meetings between planning commissioners and developers, which was also a move toward transparency.
“There is no doubt that our city is facing a housing crisis and this requires an all hands on deck approach,” Garcetti said.
The mayor also said that despite his opposition to Measure S and stances on the need to build more affordable housing and housing in general, he is not “pro density.”
“There’s always this theme that City Hall is pushing density on community members who don’t want it,” he said. “What I’m saying is the number of people who live here are the number of people who live here. The number of people who move here aren’t signing up for permission from City Hall to move here, or to have children. They are here, period, and we have to respond.”
— City News Service