The Lewis Center carries out research in four major dimensions of housing policy in order to inform and guide policy with evidence and to highlight the topics about which we need to learn more.  We currently focus on the greater Los Angeles region, but many issues are highly relevant to other parts of the state and country.


Michael Lens
Michael LensAssociate Director
Associate Professor, Urban Planning
Paavo Monkonnen
Paavo MonkonnenSenior Fellow for Housing Policy
Associate Professor, Urban Planning

Issue Briefs

Is Los Angeles Destroying Its Affordable Housing Stock to Build Luxury Apartments?

Los Angeles has a severe shortage of affordable housing, and newly-constructed housing is typically more expensive to rent or buy than older multifamily units nearby. Many fear that, because LA is short on vacant parcels zoned for multifamily homes, these older, more affordable units will inevitably be demolished to make way for new, more expensive housing. In this brief, we investigate whether or not this is occurring and what the answer means for the city’s response to the housing crisis.

How Proposition U Restrains Los Angeles Housing Development

Proposition U, approved by LA voters in 1986, permanently and dramatically decreased the amount of permitted development based on lot size, significantly contributed to the city’s notoriously low-slung urban form, and curtailed the potential of its commercial corridors. In this brief, we examine how the measure prevents the development of thousands of new infill housing units on top of retail that could create transit-oriented, mixed-use communities in a way that protects the equity and stability of surrounding neighborhoods. 

Overcoming Opposition to New Housing

Proposals for new housing development often meet significant resistance from those that benefit most from its scarcity, homeowners and landlords, while too few advocate for upending the existing pattern of zoning and increasing construction in neighborhoods of opportunity. In this brief, we explain how opponents of new housing use California’s planning and political systems to their advantage, and offer recommendations for reforms that help increase housing supply and reduce the unequal spatial distribution of new development.

Residential Preference Policies

Neighborhood residential preference policies attempt to curb residential displacement by setting aside units in new developments for people who live in the immediate area. Many people and agencies that these policies are in conflict and violation of the Fair Housing Act as they limit access to new residential units. In this brief, we explain the delicate balance between open access to housing and gentrification concerns with examples from San Francisco, New York City and Los Angeles. 

Measure S 

While there is no shortage of debate on Measure S, the public dialogue has been relatively uninformed about the likely consequences of the Measure, in part due to difficulties in working with the various data sources on permitting and housing construction in Los Angeles. In this brief, our best assessment of the available research and data leads us to conclude that if the Measure passes, rents and property costs in the Los Angeles region are likely to rise even faster than they are already.

Policy Briefs

Latest Publications

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