It’s the housing costs, stupid: LA’s rising inflation explained

LA and other big California cities recorded inflation that rose above national average, new federal statistics show

The pace of rent growth is back up in L.A. and Orange counties
The pace of rent growth is back up in L.A. and Orange counties

The cost of housing in Los Angeles and other major California metros keeps rising, and along with it inflation.

L.A. and Orange counties each recorded 3.1 percent inflation over the last year, according to new U.S. Labor Department statistics cited by the Los Angeles Times. In San Diego County it was even worse, as the increase rose to 3.8 percent, higher than anywhere else in the country. The numbers were from May 2018 through May 2019.

The latest data for the notoriously expensive San Francisco Bay Area — from April — indicated inflation stood at 4 percent.

Federal figures indicate inflation nationwide was 2 percent in May, down from 2.1 percent in April.

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Housing costs have a “huge weight in the index,” Lynn Reaser, an economist at Point Loma Nazarene University, told the Times. She said there was not enough new housing being built, a fact that was has helped drive the increases.

The pace of rent growth, meanwhile, rose 5.4 percent in May, a pickup after it had slowed late last year. Despite the slowdown late last year, rents still rose 6.6 percent in L.A. in 2018.

The California Housing Partnership estimates that L.A. County is short more than 500,000 affordable homes.

Pro-development camps often advocate loosening regulations and upzoning low-density residential areas to allow more multifamily construction. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to a recent Public Policy Institute of California survey support statewide upzoning in single-family areas near transit and jobs.

Some in the state prefer requiring developers build more affordable units. A number of cities in the L.A. area have enacted new rent control measures this year, including caps on rent hikes. [LAT]Dennis Lynch