Why underutilized hotels and motels could be the fastest route to reducing the affordable housing deficit in Los Angeles
A new report Examination of strategies to reverse the critical housing shortage in Los Angeles found that repurposing commercial buildings, such as hotels, motels and vacant offices, could significantly increase available units.
Researchers from the RAND Corporation, which published the report, said such adaptive reuse could provide 9 to 14 percent of the homes LA County needs to build over the next eight years.
Of the available options, hotels and motels would be the most feasible, Jason Ward, lead author of the study and an economist at RAND, said in a statement. Existing rooms could simply be converted into living units.
The availability and usability of vacant office space, however, largely depends on local property prices and developers’ plans for the units.
“The economics and logistics of such projects are complex,” Ward said. “Significant incentives for the conversion of these properties into both market-priced and affordable housing may be needed.”
Adaptive reuse made it in LA in the past. A paper published last year by UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation found that between 2014 and 2019, LA created about 28,000 homes on commercially zoned land, far more than any other major metropolitan area. from California.
This is partly thanks to an ordinance passed by the city council in 1999, which sought to streamline adaptive reuse projects in struggling downtown buildings. The result is today’s bustling neighborhood, where businesses thrive and tenants flock.
Among the buildings that have been redeveloped is the infamous Hotel Cecile.
The report released by RAND identified approximately 2,300 commercial properties that may be suitable for reuse. If maximized, the buildings could yield 72,000 to 113,000 homes for LA County.
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