LA County could get 1 million new residents by 2035

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Mired in a severe housing shortage, Los Angeles County is likely to welcome an additional 1 million residents over the next two decades, according to a preliminary estimate from the Southern California Association of Governments.

The coalition of local governments and agencies helps to inform planning decisions across the Southern California regions, and the new projection puts pressure on LA County officials to prepare for the challenges brought on by such a significant population increase.

“What we cherish the most—our region’s quality of life—is at stake if we cannot build more housing or build and maintain the transportation infrastructure necessary to accommodate this growth,” warned SCAG executive director Hasan Ikhrata.

LA County is home to around 10.2 million residents right now. But the new report, released Friday, says that number could rise to 11.2 million by 2035.

In a statement, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the city is getting ready for the population increase by “making it easier to finance and build the housing we need.”

In 2014, Garcetti announced plans to bring at least 100,000 new units of housing to Los Angeles by 2021—a goal which the city is on track to reach.

Thanks to a pair of ballot initiatives approved by voters last year, the city also has a new set of incentives promoting affordable housing near transit, and funding for the construction of 10,000 units of housing set aside for homeless residents.

Beyond that, LA planners are now working on an update to the city’s general plan, as well as 35 neighborhood-specific community plans. Once complete, the updates are expected to allow for greater residential density across the city, paving the way for larger developments with more housing.

Still, much more may need to be done in order to bring down steadily increasing housing costs across the city.

Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council, said Friday that Southern California leaders could do little to alleviate rising rents and mortgage payments “until we truly address the need for exponential growth in affordable and workforce housing.”

A recent report from the nonprofit California Housing Partnership Corporation suggested that LA County would need to build a staggering 551,807 new units of affordable housing to address demand from lower income residents.

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