LOS ANGELES—New analysis from the Economic Roundtable outlines solutions to the lack of housing for Los Angeles residents, especially families with average or below-average incomes. 

“Places for Homes: Where Los Angeles Can Build More Housing,” a concept paper on redeveloping rent-stabilized properties in the city, analyzes the opportunity to redevelop the city’s rent-stabilized properties and provide more housing.

“We see an enormous unmet need for more housing, especially affordable housing,” stated Daniel Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable. He and co-author Patrick Burns, Economic Roundtable senior researcher, found that the rent-stabilized housing in Los Angeles is, by definition, older apartment buildings, and it would be possible to redevelop the property they are on under current zoning with a lot more housing on them.

The city has up-zoned many neighborhoods, with another up-zoning now underway, to allow construction of over 1.5 million new housing units. However, past experience has shown that new housing may fall short of new zoning because new construction is often opposed and agonizingly slow, said authors.


“The law requires preserving the existing number of stabilized rental units, so this is not about eliminating affordable housing or rent stabilized housing, but about keeping it and increasing the number of housing units in the city,” Mr. Flaming told The Final Call.  Further, apartments that are regulated by Los Angeles’ rent stabilization ordinance make up over two-thirds of the city’s rental units, and 40 percent of its total 1.5 million housing units. 

This strategy comes from a survey of landlords of rent-stabilized properties. Landlords were asked whether they would be interested in redeveloping their property with more units if it was financially feasible.

“Los Angeles needs more than half a million more affordable housing units. That means units that people can afford if they pay 30 percent, or a third of their income for rent. And so, working class families, many of them, can’t afford housing in the city. The city needs the work they do to run, but the people who are doing this work can’t afford to live in the city,” said Mr. Flaming.

The properties looked at by the Economic Roundtable are located across Los Angeles County, over different council districts, including in South L.A. and the Valley, noted Mr. Burns.

“The advantage is that oftentimes when we talk about adding new additional housing, there’s a lot of community opposition, maybe what you would call nimbyism (not in my back yard), that can come up. But if it’s redeveloping a smaller apartment building into a larger apartment building, they happen to be on blocks where there’s actually several of these apartment buildings already there and there for many years. So it’s already a kind of multifamily apartment neighborhood, and so in a way, this is one strategy for addressing that large unmet need that Dan was talking about,” said Mr. Burns.

The authors acknowledge challenges developers may face in getting their projects built due to many rules and regulations.  Public subsidies and relocations are just a few necessities to successfully pull off the redevelopments, but there is hope.

The “‘United to House L.A.’ Ballot Measure,” if passed by voters in November 2022, would be to negotiate subsidies that would include affordable units in addition to the existing number of rent -stabilized units in projects that redevelop with higher density on such sites.

“It would be hard to do this on small properties. But some of the rent stabilized properties are quite large, and so it’s not a strategy that would work on every property, but it would work on many of them, particularly if there’s public money to support doing it,” said Mr. Flaming.