Sat, Jul

People Need Homes, And That Includes the Middle Class


THE DOCTOR IS IN - My experience in land use and transportation is as follows: 

Los Angeles has city policies and working paradigms, which are metastasizing to suburban neighborhoods in L.A., Ventura, and Orange Counties that favor developers and real estate agents, and the wealthy, and leave the middle class in the dust.  

New high-rises for the wealthy, without any mitigation measures of parking, infrastructure (water, electricity), and transportation really aren't being done because of this focus on the wealthy. 

Frankly, if Silicon Beach is the new "tax cow" to be milked, and the middle/lower-middle class is to be thrown out of the tax equation, then state, city, and county real estate law will have nothing to do with environmental law, but instead of who brings in the tax dollars. 

It is a horrible, nasty, and uuuuuuuuugly statement, but if the middle/lower-middle class are spared state and local tax requirements compared to the upper-middle and wealthy classes, then their needs and desires will be tossed asunder and aside because...they just don't have any skin in the game. 

In other words, the mantra of "the rich pay less, and the poor pay more isn't quite true", as the L.A. Times reports. 

Cases in point: the UC/Cal State system used to be funded by the middle class, which is much larger and has more cumulative financial largesse and resources compared to the smaller numbers of the wealthy. Now the UC/Cal State systems need no longer cater to the middle/lower-middle classes. 

Furthermore, budget surpluses used to be given back to the taxpayers, which included the middle class. Now that the political paradigms of the rich to the poor (a sort of Robin Hood mentality) from Sacramento held that the recent surplus would be sent back to certain underprivileged groups of their making, rather than the taxpayers who paid for and dutifully caused that surplus. 

But it's the middle class that forms the economic and cultural strength of any civilized society, and with the wealthy leaving California (think Big Tech layoffs in unprecedented numbers, and companies moving to greener, less taxing pastures/states), it's anyone's guess how the middle class will be treated by Sacramento, and by extent, from L.A. City/County governments.  

Yet the real estate "industry" is being harmed by rising interest rates, and that's a good thing (at least in my pro-middle class opinion).  

When real estate brokers fail to make bigtime cash off of the wealthy, then middle-class individuals and families have more bidding power and access to homes. To be blunt, there are some brokers who are just fine, but too many do well when the middle class gets hurt (and vice versa, which is my point). 

This state still allows too many real estate trusts and foreign purchasers to gobble up our housing supply, prevent the middle class to have a chance to bid for and purchase homes, and then result in a situation where outrageously high rents are imposed on this middle class. 

Yet rising interest rates can lower the costs of housing purchase pricing for those who've saved for a proper down payment (i.e., the middle class) and drive away trusts and foreign investors who are hurting the middle class.  

Furthermore, the trend towards moving outside urban areas to suburban and rural regions with lower housing prices also is one that also favors the middle class

Where does this leave L.A.? Where it always was, and always should have been: 

Invading and transforming middle class R1/single-family home neighborhoods when the focus should be on nice but not unaffordable units on major thoroughfares, and with sufficient parking and infrastructure to boot...  

...but with a never-met-but-still-existent solution by prioritizing and fast-tracking structures with condos that are 3-4 stories (and no higher!) ought to be built pronto and we'll have enough homes for students, workforce individuals/families, and seniors. 

You know...the ones that citizens and neighborhood organizations will embrace the most, and fight the least, as we finally house the middle class. 

That is, of course, if our planning politburos choose to finally focus on the middle class.



(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband to a wonderful wife and father to two cherished children. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 9, years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)