The State of California is facing a housing crisis. From the escalating cost of renting an apartment or purchasing a home or condominium, to the traffic and congestion pressure placed on neighborhoods and communities by the state's burgeoning population, California is facing an unprecedented housing challenge. For the City of West Hollywood and other Westside cities, the changes in the housing market are creating many public policy concerns.
As changes in market forces affect housing stability for many residents, there are increasing concerns about what can be done to respond to the housing crisis and protect the affordable housing stock in West Hollywood. These and other issues were discussed when the City of West Hollywood hosted a special Housing Summit held on Monday, December 4, 2006.
Protecting the City's affordable housing stock has been a fundamental core value since West Hollywood was incorporated in 1984. Today, more than 16,000 households in West Hollywood rely on the City's rent stabilization law to help protect their affordable housing. For many residents, the increasing cost of housing is a major concern, particularly Seniors, people with disabilities and young adults. In rent control cities like West Hollywood and Santa Monica, state law changes which allowed vacancy decontrol (when a property owner is allowed to increase a unit's rent to market rate after a voluntary vacancy) have resulted in increases in rents that were formerly stabilized to protect those persons most vulnerable to the fluctuating housing markets.
Some of the topics discussed at the Housing Summit included:
- The state of the current housing market and housing trends;
- How State laws affect the housing market;
- Regional economic and demographic projections and their effect on the housing market;
- How cities are meeting the need for affordable housing through rent stabilization laws, inclusionary housing requirements and the development of non-profit affordable housing projects;
- What can be done to create workforce housing, low to moderate income housing and other needed housing in the community;
- How the demand for more housing and development of new housing is impacting residential neighborhoods, public infrastructure and municipal services; and
- How to proceed in the development of the update of the Housing Element of the General Plan (see article on "What is a Housing Element?") which is due to the State in July 2008.
Some of the distinguished professionals that participated in the panel discussions included Jack Kyser, Chief Economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation; Mercedes Marquez, General Manager of the City of Los Angeles Housing Department; Robin Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles Community Design Center; Kathe Head, Principal with Keyser Marston Associates, Inc.; Christine Minnehan, Director, California Housing Law Project; and Lawrence Bond, Principal with Bond, Ltd.
Those who attended the Housing Summit also had an opportunity to create a toolbox of ideas on how the City should respond to the current housing crisis. These ideas included expanding lobbying and legislative efforts; developing short, middle and long-term housing plans; developing land use policies to more effectively respond to the housing crisis and helping to establish the City's priorities in the development of these policies.
For more information about the Housing Summit, call the City's Community Development Department at (323) 848-6475.