The Real Deal Los Angeles

Ben Carson says LA’s single-family zoning is pushing up prices

Trump Administration official wants looser zoning restrictions
August 14, 2018 01:00PM

Ben Carson and a view of Santa Monica (Credit: Ken Lund via Flickr)

Ben Carson laid out his plan to tackle restrictive zoning around the country and took a jab at Los Angeles in the process.

Carson, the Secretary for Housing and Urban Development, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview on Monday that L.A.’s pervasive single-family zoning is contributing to high prices. The L.A. and greater Southern California market have seen prices shoot up to record highs over the last year or so.

“Of course you’re going to have skyrocketing prices that no one can afford,” he told the Journal, after saying that he wanted to “encourage the development of mixed-income multifamily dwellings all over the place.”

U.S. Census figures show that 56 percent of occupied housing units in L.A. County were single-family in 2016.

Carson said HUD would weigh local zoning when handing out highly sought-after grants to incentivize local governments to consider their zoning codes.

Carson’s policy would signal a break from the Barack Obama administration, which focused on enforcing the Fair Housing Act, aka the Civil Rights Act of 1968, by encouraging the development of low-income housing in wealthier areas. Carson said his department will re-examine how it determines compliance with that law.

Besides restricting dense development, restrictive zoning codes can drive up construction costs, which some critics say make development unfeasible.

That’s a common refrain among those in the Yes In My Backyard movement, whose followers argue denser zoning and less stringent codes would alleviate housing crises. As the housing market has tightened in recent years, the movement has spread from its origin cities, including San Francisco, to L.A. and others. [WSJ] – Dennis Lynch