By Stan Paul “Too Much and Not Enough” is a recipe for a crisis when it comes to rising rents and lack of available and affordable housing in Los Angeles County. It also was an apt title of the Lewis Center's 11th annual Downtown Los Angeles Forum on Transportation, Land Use and the Environment, held May 18 at the California Endowment. “The short story is the rent has been getting ‘too damn high’ for decades, and renter wages have not kept up,” said moderator Michael Lens, Lewis Center associate director and associate professor of urban planning and public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. In the last few years, a threshold has been crossed as “more and more households cannot really bear the rising costs of rent,” Lens said, launching a day of debate and discussion on a nationwide problem that is acutely felt in the LA region, which is also beset by chronic homelessness. Experts representing academia, government and nonprofit organizations, as well as community stakeholders, came together to discuss problems, barriers and solutions to the multifaceted issue of affordable housing. “Research is pretty unequivocal that increasing housing supply is necessary to stabilize prices,” Lens said, but there [...]
The 2017-18 edition of the Housing, Equity, and Community Series — a collaboration between the Lewis Center, the Institute for Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin, and the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate — kicked off in the fall with a screening of the award-winning documentary “East LA Interchange.” The film traces the intersections of pollution, transportation, and gentrification in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Director Betsy Kalin and longtime Boyle Heights resident Nancy Romero joined Lewis Center associate director Michael Lens, the host of the series, for a moderated discussion. Part 1 of the series' lunchtime panel discussions tackled the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles and featured Jerry Ramirez, manager of Los Angeles County’s homeless initiative; Dora Leon Gallo, CEO of A Community of Friends; Jordan Vega, a current UCLA student and a director of Bruin Shelter, a registered student organization; and activist and Skid Row resident Suzette Shaw. Watch the full panel: Part 2 examined protections for renters, including how current state laws on tenancy and evictions affect residents in Los Angeles and the political appetite for reform. The panel included UCLA Luskin professor Joan Ling, Tony Samara of Urban Habitat, and Doug Smith of Public Counsel. Watch the full panel: Part 3 covered [...]
By Zev Hurwitz Though housing prices in Los Angeles are seemingly out of control, it may be control that can start to ease the burden for struggling renters. At a panel conversation held at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs on February 26, a trio of experts discussed the housing crisis in the area and the potential for new rent control and eviction protections to help stabilize living situations in Los Angeles. The event was the second in the Housing, Equity, and Community Series hosted by the Lewis Center, the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate, and the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. The next installment in the series will take place during the spring quarter. Watch the full panel: Michael Lens, assistant professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, opened the event, “Protecting Renters: Discussions of rent control, stabilization, and evictions,” and alluded to the growing homeless issue as “an indicator of the housing issue in Los Angeles.” “Here in Los Angeles, renters are spending enormous sums of money on basic shelter,” Lens said. “For an alarming number of Angelenos, even basic shelter is out of reach.” Lens noted that the most recent homeless data shows 57,000 [...]
UCLA Luskin study documents lack of economic progress in South LA in 50 years since Kerner Commission
On the 50th anniversary of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders report on racial inequality and inner-city conditions — better known as the Kerner Commission — researchers at UCLA Luskin’s Center for Neighborhood Knowledge (CNK) have found that one of the commission's primary areas of focus, South Los Angeles, has experienced little economic progress over the past half-century. The new study, supported by the Lewis Center and many other partners, determined that the wage gap for South LA workers has actually widened since the Kerner Commission, decreasing from 80 cents on the dollar compared to average Los Angeles County workers in 1960 to about 60 cents on the dollar today. It's one of several striking findings about the lack of housing, transportation, and educational opportunity in a community of more than 720,000 people, which was the site of the 1965 Watts riots that led in part to the Kerner Commission's creation. Housing: CNK research shows that South LA has lower rates of homeownership, the principal mechanism for wealth accumulation for middle-class residents, compared to the rest of LA County, and that rates have declined over time. Today, fewer than one in three South LA residents own their home. For those who don't, [...]
The research is clear: Los Angeles needs to build more housing. The city’s affordability crisis, which drives its growing homelessness, displacement, and resident cost burdens, is indisputably the result of a severe housing shortage. The pace of housing development has not remotely kept pace with the increase in new residents over the past three decades. Why isn’t there enough affordable housing in LA? And what could be done to create more? Lewis Center faculty and students have spent the past year studying these question in detail, and have produced three briefs detailing new research into the causes of, and potential solutions to, LA’s housing problems: Is Los Angeles Destroying Its Affordable Housing Stock to Build Luxury Apartments? How Proposition U Restrains Los Angeles Housing Development Overcoming Opposition to New Housing Together, the research briefs draw straightforward conclusions about what’s behind the Los Angeles housing crisis — and how the tide might be turned: The lack of housing helps the rich and hurts everyone (and everything) else Systemic factors that block new housing development exacerbate existing spatial inequalities by pricing low- and middle-income households out of neighborhoods with quality public services, particularly high-performing schools. California’s tight land use regulations often benefit [...]
By Zev Hurwitz With nearly 60,000 Angelenos struggling with homelessness, local change agents have taken on the task of developing policies and services to address the crisis. At a Nov. 15, 2017, panel discussion at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, four leaders in the field discussed the challenges and opportunities in finding solutions for the plethora of Los Angeles residents who do not have access to permanent housing. The talk was part of an ongoing "Housing, Equity, and Community Series" put on by the Lewis Center, the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin, and the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate. More events in the series will take place in the winter and spring quarters. Watch the full panel: Michael Lens, associate professor of urban planning at the Luskin School, moderated the “Homelessness in Los Angeles” event. Other participants were Jerry Ramirez, manager of Los Angeles County’s homeless initiative; Dora Leon Gallo, CEO of A Community of Friends; Jordan Vega, a current UCLA student and a director of Bruin Shelter, a registered student organization; and activist and Skid Row resident Suzette Shaw. Lens began the lunch program by noting some alarming homelessness statistics and emphasizing the importance [...]
How can California be a global environmental leader if its runaway housing crisis makes climate change worse? This question was at the heart of the 2017 edition of our annual Lake Arrowhead Symposium, held in October around the theme "Global Climate Change, Local Growing Pains." It's now being asked in the national media, in a new article in Bloomberg Businessweek. "California risks losing the lead in the fight against climate change if it can’t reduce its citizens’ commutes," reporter Esmé E. Deprez concludes. "To do so, it’ll need more housing." Deprez's piece tracks how the lack of affordable housing in California cities forces lower-income people to move further and further outside the urban core, producing more greenhouse gas emissions. Several Arrowhead panels touched on some of the reasons why this is happening: Exclusionary policies that prevent housing construction in many urban neighborhoods, misconceptions about the causes of traffic, and the lack of integrated local climate plans. Read the full Bloomberg piece here, and watch insights from some of the 2017 Arrowhead panelists below:
The annual UCLA Lake Arrowhead Symposium brings together influential planners, policymakers, academics, and other stakeholders for three days of immersive discussion on the connections between land use, transportation, and the environment. This October's 27th edition of the gathering tackled the highly relevant topic of "Global Climate Change, Local Growing Pains," examining how land use policy interacts with and often impedes climate goals.
Sessions covered everything from housing displacement to freight logistics to infrastructure planning for greenhouse gas emissions. Speakers summarized some of the symposium's key themes and insights in the video below:
By Alfonso Directo Jr.
The 27th Annual UCLA Lake Arrowhead Symposium - “Global Climate Change, Local Growing Pains” - tackles the connections and conflicts between sustainability goals and land use policy in California and beyond. Here's a dispatch from a session on Tuesday, October 17, and a summary video with the three panelists.
How can we grow our urban areas more responsibly? The 2017 symposium’s final panel, moderated by the Lewis Center’s John Gahbauer, featured pragmatic local leaders presenting tools they have each used to help communities, developers, and decision-makers better understand, create, evaluate, and modify individual projects that support positive growth.[...]