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LA on track to build 100K new homes by 2021, mayor says

Mayor Eric Garcetti didn't have anything to say about the 2020 Commission in his State of the City speech.
File photo by victoriabernal via Flickr Creative Commons
Mayor Eric Garcetti set a goal of building 100,000 new housing units in his State of the City speech.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday the city is on its way to meeting his goal of producing 100,000 new housing units between 2013 and 2021.

To hit that target, the city needs to build 12,500 units a year. Two years in, the city has permitted nearly 26,000 new housing units, the mayor said at a building industry meeting Thursday. In the last year alone, the city approved $7 billion in new construction.  

"It's not something that people out there will feel overnight, they can’t feel it on the street, and in the rents that are still going up, but they will feel it, inevitably," Garcetti told members of the Building Industry Association of Southern California's Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter.

Garcetti said LA.'s housing affordability crisis is driven by an undersupply of units. He wanted to facilitate more new construction by streamlining the building review process that developers have described as cumbersome and time-consuming.

The city is offering a free "concierge" service that guides developers through layers of review by different departments. 

"It's the government equivalent of walking into the Ritz," Garcetti said.

And in 2017, the city will unveil an online portal that’ll serve as one-stop shopping for developers, where they can deal with everything from building safety to street lights and sanitation.

Derek Leavitt, a principal at Modative, said he was pleased that the mayor was using technology to cut through red tape for developers.

In Leavitt's experience, it averages 18 months of dealing with the city before construction can start.

"If you can speed up that time frame, you can get housing units on the market quicker, hopefully cheaper, which is better for everybody involved," Leavitt said.

Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who heads the Council's Housing Committee, said he also wanted to encourage housing production by deferring some development fees on residential projects until construction is completed.

"A lot of the fees have to be paid upfront yet they won't get their occupancy for 18 months," Cedillo said. "It's amazing that we even have that practice. You're paying for things way before you're going get the value."

He's proposed the Department of Building and Safety identify which fees could potentially be deferred.