LA’s Home Prices Have Skyrocketed 141% Since 2000 Because of Suburban Mentality, and Anti-Dense Housing Mind Set

Dense apartments

141% since 2000? This according to a study by UCLA researchers, who say it is the highest price increase in the nation.

Without adjusting for inflation, other cities to see jumps are Washington, D.C. at 105 percent, San Diego at 101 percent, San Francisco at 89 percent, New York City at 73 percent, Seattle at 67 percent, and Chicago at 25 percent. Dallas barely squeaked onto the list at 39%, but at least we nudged out other Texas cities. Plus all these cities built more housing units than Los Angeles did during this time frame.

Suburban sprawl Dallas

Why have LA’s home prices spiked so high? Researchers say it’s because of a suburban mentality that draws LA buyers to homes even as they shun dense living a la multi-family apartments and condos.

We argue that one possible reason is that some Angelenos, especially rich ones, have a suburban mentality,” UCLA economist William Yu said in his report. “This mentality propels them to make efforts to maintain the current status quo and go against developing their neighborhoods with higher-density housing, even near the Metro rail system.”

Whoa, hang on there. This is starting to sound awfully amiliar. We have a tri-level subway station with escalators to boarding platforms 10 stories below North Central Expressway called the Cityplace/Uptown Station. It’s triggering commercial and residential development and an expansion of the M-Line Trolley to the area. What do we build almost directly across from it? A Sam’s Wholesale Club big box warehouse store.

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We have 60 year old townhomes on a unique property wedged between two of the most demographically wealthy communities in the country. The townhomes are functionally obsolescent. The aging post World War Two garden apartments turned condos in the area are so strained for maintenance buyers cannot get financing because some homeowner associations lack sufficient funds to cover repairs. One unit seeks a buyer and half the residents threaten a lawsuit.

Neighbors complain the replacement apartments will be too tall, too dense, and bring too much traffic to their ‘hood. This despite the fact that two high rise buildings exist a few miles to the east.

Highland House

We have another aging building in a commercial area, Preston Center, that a developer plans to scrape and replace with a luxury apartment complex with plenty of parking, amenities where the sky is the limit, high end luxury units designed to cater to baby boomers with ranches and second homes. No way, Jose: the neighbors complain the units will choke the area with more traffic, and children of the divorced families living in these units will flood the Highland Park School District.

Oh and it was too tall — higher than Reunion Tower, as former Mayor Laura Miller put it.

Wait, there’s more:  The Saltillo Apartments along the Katy Trail. The developers, Provident, had it coming from two sides.

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The town of Highland Park opposed re-zoning for the new 250-ish apartment development because they said a new, larger complex would negatively impact a tiny park called Abbott Park. TOO TALL! IT WILL BLOCK THE SUN!

Then the Friends of the Katy Trail opposed the new development. They said it was too tall, to0 dense, and the height and 90-foot building was too close to the Katy for comfort.

Oh and then Highland Park, which is like a suburb nestled in the heart of Dallas, even sued to try and stop the project once it was approved by the Dallas City Council.

What is going on here? Are we like LA? Our home prices didn’t spike up 141%, unfortunately, but we have the same nimbyism mentality that is driving developers to the more welcoming suburbs. Which you have to drive to get to. Which is leaving the inner loop housing only for those of significant means. Cheaper housing? Not for these cats.

Yu says if Los Angeles wants cheaper housing, residents will have to accept living a little closer to their neighbors.

“To keep Los Angeles’ economy prosperous and to embrace more young talent in this great city, we suggest that ‘Suburb Syndrome’ in Angelenos’ minds needs to be cured,” Yu said. “And the medicine is that all of us need to understand some new realities, as Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ said: ‘Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.'”

We don’t have the uber home price inflation, but like LA, we do have a lack of housing inventory, we are spread out all over tarnation, and we love our freeways and fancy cars. Denser cities are more economically friendly and not always super congested if there is good public transportation, which San Francisco and New York City both have. LA does not. Dallas does not.

Could it be that our economically friendly real estate is keeping us from getting more dense housing?  Watch out, we may end up just like LA!