Why Do Angelenos Believe There's A Housing Shortage?  Are We Dumb? 

THE VIEW FROM HERE - LA County has over 251,000 vacant units and only 66,000 homeless people. The city has about 44,000 homeless. 

Los Angeles lost 204,000 people last year. It takes a dumb person to believe that a city which is losing population and has a huge glut of vacant housing has a housing shortage. 

Even if we all flunked 3rd grade math, we should recognize that 251,000 is larger than 66,000. A person with a 90 IQ can understand that most people do not live alone.  Thus, we do not need 66,000 vacancies to house 66,000 homeless. The official size of the average LA household is 2.82 ppl, but let's say for homeless people there are only 2.5 people per household.  That means we need only 26,400 empty units to house all the homeless in the entire county – only 17,600 units for the city’s homeless. 

Are People Dumb? 

If every homeless person were housed, the county would still have 224,600 vacant units. Nonetheless, politicos keep proclaiming that we must construct more affordable housing at $800K to $1M. 

Here's a fact, which should allow voters to stop believing the politicos. Since 2001, the city has allowed about 28,000 rent controlled apartments to be destroyed.  July 26, 2018, CityWatch, LA Loses 5 ½ Rent Control Units a Day Because of the Heartless Ellis Act!, by Larry Gross   This does not include the thousands of RSO apartments which we know developers had destroyed in violation of the Ellis Act. Yes, if no RSO unit had been destroyed, there would be enough RSO apartments for all the homeless. Has Karen Bass admitted this fact, has Rick Caruso, has the LA Times aka Pravda West? 

Are Angelenos Dumb When Politicos Lie That There Is a Housing Shortage? 

There is the maxim that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth.  If every time Angelenos see a homeless encampment some official claims, "We have a housing shortage," then people come to believe we have a housing shortage.  Angelenos see the homeless people, but they do not see the hundreds of thousands of vacant units.  

Why Politicos Persist in the Absurd Falsehood That Homelessness Is Due to a Housing Shortage

Los Angeles is corrupt feudal society controlled by a few oligarchs whose wealth depends on extreme densification of Los Angeles, aka Manhattanization.  As far back as the 1930's, they have bought up LA land in the Basin and close to DTLA, e.g. Bunker Hill.  Even after WWII, land was dirt cheap.  With the financial support of the state's CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) developers densified Bunker Hill and then moved to other areas in the Basin, e.g., West LA.  

Sprawl Is Good – It Is Very Good 

The politicos undertook the associated lies that sprawl was bad and densification was good.  Sprawl spreads around wealth, where densification concentrates wealth in the hands of a few people.  The “Sprawl is bad” myth was intentionally invented by the developers who after WW II insisted on high rise offices in the Basin and bedroom communities in the Valleys.  That land use policy gave us Rush Hour Traffic.  Homes in the valleys with offices downtown was key to transferring land wealth from most of the city into the hands of the very few who owned land in the Basin.  If the developers had allowed Sprawl to include office complexes to spread throughout the entire urban area, there would have been no DTLA densification to cause Rush Hours.  Modest low rise garden office complexes are 100% compatible with R-1 neighborhoods, but a 30 story office complex on Bunker Hills makes the landowner wealthier than a 2 story garden office complex on Bunker Hill or in Woodland Hills.  

If all the office spaces were spread throughout the entire urban area, no one part of town would attract enough commuters to cause traffic congestion.  The sole reason we have horrible traffic is that corrupt developers like Rick Caruso and corrupt city councilmembers (name anyone of them) and Mayor Garcetti want mega-densification as it makes a few oligarchs vastly more wealthy and everyone else poorer. 

DTLA is 1.4% of the City of Los Angeles with 20% of the city’s jobs and almost 50% of the office spaces with 47,999 employees per sq. mi. DTLA is 11 times as dense as the rest of the city.  March 30, 2022 DTLA, 5 Standout Stats about Downtown LA, by Elan Shore  LA in 2022 is not New York City in 1800 with 60,515 people when a horse was the faster mode of transportation.  There is zero need for density except to make landowners wealthy. 

Two Reasons Developers Hate Sprawl of Office Spaces 

(1) If Bunker Hill had only two story garden office complexes mixed with nice homes, the land would be worth about the same as the same size lot in Woodland Hills.  The developers could not afford to corner the real estate market for offices throughout the entire 5,000 sq miles, but they could buy up the real estate in and near DTLA.  All they had to do to turn a couple square miles of land into billions of dollars was also purchase a city council.  We’ve known since 1915 that the sole purpose of densification is to make a few landowners exceedingly wealthy while everyone else suffers.  1915 Study of Street Traffic Condition in the City of Los Angeles, p 31   

(2) The other reason is mass transit.  When offices and all land uses spread out evenly, there would be no rush hours and no need for mass transit other than buses.  Thus, horrible, terrible traffic congestion is used to justify construction of subways, trolleys and fixed rail intra-urban trains.  Over time, mass transit promised to make trillions dollars for developers.   The worse the traffic congestion, the better for developers’ pocket books.   Subways cost billions but have a 30 year life span before major re-construction.  Above ground fixed rail can be completed faster.  The land along the K Line will soon be lined with tenements for poor Blacks.  Learn the lingo, “affordable housing” means “tenement.” 

The Homeless Remain Highly Visible for the Specific Reason 

The homeless must remain visible and a public danger because then voters will pay anything to get the homeless off the streets.  Foolishly believing the meme that LA has a housing shortage, voters will spend billions of taxpayer dollars to construct Affordable Housing.  Remember, we have over 250,000 vacant units. Taxpayers will pay developers billions upon billions of dollars to construct housing for the poor and in return developers will construct substandard tenements for poor at Taj Mahal prices. 

Gentrification of East Los Angeles 

As recently as five years ago, the plan had been to gentrify South Los Angeles, but now the developers are focusing on City Terrace, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and El Sereno. With the flight of family millennials and the dramatic increase in telecommuting, the high rises in DTLA face economic collapse.  The quick fix is to move out the Mexicans from the bluffs East of DTLA and move in young professionals.  East Los is just south of the Asian communities and hence is safer than South Central.  Anglos’ stealing land from Mexicans is as American as apple pie. 

Look at Rick Caruso’s plan to pay his buddies billions and billions of tax dollars to construct "hundreds of thousands" of housing units. We voters continue to fall for the lie that LA has a housing shortage; maybe we are dumb.


(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor.  You may email him at [email protected].   The opinions expressed by Mr. Abrams are solely his and not necessarily those of CityWatch.)