Lens on Housing Density Reforms in Los Angeles

Associate Professor Michael Lens wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times on housing and land use reform in Los Angeles. Lens argues that L.A.’s geographic sprawl can be beneficial in terms of balancing housing density “that works for Californians.” Land use laws that discourage building for density can be reformed to provide alternatives to single-family neighborhoods by re-framing planning for housing around job-rich, medium-density urban hubs. “This does not necessarily mean obliterating the urban forms and communities that have been built in the past century. But without some densification, we’ll keep pushing people and development into the Inland Empire and other outlying areas (which is already happening),” he wrote. The result is “more punishing commutes and, in all likelihood, still expensive housing.” Lens also was quoted in an L.A. Times article about landlords’ objections to a continuing rent freeze, saying the pandemic sent policymakers “reaching for the emergency button,” but now the city should look at policies like expanding housing subsidies rather than extending the freeze.


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