Los Angeles is mostly an extensive sprawl of single family dwellings, but increasingly houses are being bought up by developers, demolished and replaced with blocks of condominiums.

LA suburbs

California has been one of the main battlegrounds in the national fight for more affordable homes. In just the last year, a number of proposals, including different variations of upzoning, have either been put forward or passed by the state legislature to create more affordable options and increase production of new units in a state hungry for more housing options.

Housing researcher Issi Romem, a former Zillow economist who just founded his own firm, Metrosight, says that while significant action is needed to address runaway housing costs, it doesn’t necessarily need to result in major changes at the neighborhood level.

“Allowing for even modest amounts of new density in the nation’s overwhelmingly single-family- dominant locales could lead to millions of new housing units nationwide,” Romem writes, “helping alleviate a housing affordability crisis that has been decades in the making.”

Romem examined the impact of changing zoning regulations in major U.S. metro areas would have on “status-quo assumptions” of how many new homes would be built over the next two decades, from allowing just 10 percent of single-family parcels to house duplexes, to more extensive changes, like allowing for four units per parcel.

He found that even modest densification efforts could have significant impact nationwide—across the 17 metro areas analyzed, allowing 10 percent of single-family lots to house two units instead of one could yield almost 3.3 million additional housing units—and especially in California.

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