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Business & Economy

Blame 'suburb syndrome': LA home price increases outpace other metropolitan areas



UCLA researchers say if we want cheaper housing, we’ll have to accept living a little closer to our neighbors.
UCLA researchers say if we want cheaper housing, we’ll have to accept living a little closer to our neighbors.
John Williams PHD/Flickr

Since the turn of the century, Los Angeles home prices have skyrocketed 121 percent - more than any metropolitan area in the country, according to numbers out today from the latest UCLA Anderson Forecast.

Not adjusting for inflation, Washington saw a 105 percent jump, San Diego 101 percent, San Francisco 89 percent, New York 73 percent, Seattle 67 percent, Dallas 39 percent and Chicago 25 percent.

All of those cities built more houses in the 21st century than Los Angeles did.

"We argue that one possible reason is that some Angelenos, especially rich ones, have a suburban mentality," UCLA economist William Yu said in his report. "This mentality propels them to make efforts to maintain the current status quo and go against developing their neighborhoods with higher-density housing, even near the Metro rail system." 

Yu says if Los Angeles wants cheaper housing, residents will have to accept living a little closer to their neighbors.

"To keep Los Angeles’ economy prosperous and to embrace more young talent in this great city, we suggest that 'Suburb Syndrome' in Angelenos’ minds needs to be cured," Yu said. "And the medicine is that all of us need to understand some new realities, as Dorothy in 'The Wizard of Oz' said: 'Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.'" 

Yu says denser cities are more environmentally friendly and not necessarily more congested if there's good public transportation. For instance, New York is far less congested, even though it has far more residents. 

Los Angeles is the second-most congested city in America, slightly trailing Honolulu, according to the study.

Yu points to the revival of downtown Los Angeles as an example of how he thinks the rest of the city should grow.