How much housing has West Hollywood gained in 20 years?
We looked at two sources to find out how much housing West Hollywood has gained in the last 20 years. The first was housing estimates from the California Department of Finance. The second was building permits reported to the US Census Bureau. We explored other sources in an earlier report.
For this report, we focused on the number of housing units, without considering affordability.
Net new housing based on State estimates
The California Department of Finance estimates the number of housing units in each city. The estimate for West Hollywood rose by 1,034 units from the beginning of 1996 to the beginning of 2016. That’s a 4% increase over 20 years. It’s a net increase, after taking into account units that were demolished or otherwise removed from the housing supply.
The chart below shows the year-by-year changes in the State’s estimate. Most years had a small increase or a smaller decline. In four of the 20 years, the housing estimate went up by about 100 units.
2014 saw the biggest change by far, with an increase of over 400 units. That was 40% of the total increase over the 20-year-period.
New housing based on building permits
The US Census Bureau surveys local governments for information on building permits issued for new privately-owned residential units. The permits are a leading indicator of new housing. Permits issued in one year typically become finished housing in a later year. Construction can be delayed (or even canceled) and, once started, it takes time to finish.
The permits are only about new housing. They don’t take into account housing units demolished or otherwise removed from the housing supply.
The chart below shows the reported number of housing units receiving building permits in West Hollywood. We don’t know if these numbers from the Census Bureau numbers are complete, particularly for years without any reported permits.
Roughly 90% of the units were to be constructed as buildings with at least five units. (The figure is about 80% for existing housing.) The average size of these new 5+ buildings was higher in recent years, peaking at 115 units in 2015, based on the permit data.
For all building sizes combined, the 20-year total is over 1,700 new units. The average is 86 new units a year, but the permits aren’t spread out evenly. For example, very few permits were reported during the 2001 recession or the Great Recession (starting in 2008).
The last four full years (2012-2015) stand out historically, with almost two-thirds of the total for the 20-year period. The peak of almost 600 units was in 2015. 2016 hasn’t been nearly as big a year so far, with about 50 units through July.
If we compare the two charts, there are a large number of permits issued in the last few years that aren’t yet reflected in the State’s housing estimate. The difference is close to 700 units. We suspect those units are (or soon will be) under construction. If that’s true, then the housing supply may grow another 3%.