City of L.A. voters will head to the polls on March 7 to determine the fate of Measure S. This initiative is very clear in its intent – place a two-year hold on real estate construction in Los Angeles. If passed, Measure S would change the laws governing the city’s general plan and development projects – this would effectively shut down new construction. It would also result in economic losses for business and the city; make the massive real estate market shortage in Los Angeles much worse; reduce housing for our future workforce; and increase the likelihood of residents setting up in crowded, unsafe dwellings.
Economic losses stemming from Measure S are projected to be as high as $2 billion according to a Beacon Economics report released in December. The measure also would erase $70 million from the city’s budget and will have a significant impact on jobs by putting an estimated 24,000 local residents out of work.
These facts are also concerning in light of results from a Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) poll last year of L.A. businesses showing employers are frustrated that high housing prices limit their ability to attract and maintain a skilled workforce. Measure S will exacerbate current conditions and squeeze both employers and their employees to the point that they will move out of Los Angeles to take advantage of less-expensive out-of-city or out-of-state options.
There are too few houses and multiunit dwellings in Los Angeles to shelter the existing and future skilled workforce. Developers are building an average of 80,000 California homes a year, but that falls well below the 180,000 needed according to figures from the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The state will need more than 1.8 million additional homes by 2025 to keep pace with its growing population.
Consider also that Los Angeles enjoys an educated workforce and an increasing number of jobs. However, they both might be at risk. A quarter of people ages 25 to 34 living in Los Angeles County in 2014 had a bachelor’s degree. This younger population is more educated than the older, according to a June report from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. The report also shows the county will add 346,000 jobs from 2015 to 2020 for an average growth rate of 1.5 percent a year. Not being able to find an affordable place to live, even as the job market grows, might prompt young, educated, and skilled workers to go elsewhere.
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