a new study It was found that completed multifamily housing projects in the City of Los Angeles took an average of 3.9 years from first application to completion.

Developers have complained about slow approvals for years, and this study seems to confirm that.

“The city of Los Angeles desperately needs more housing,” the study’s authors wrote. “However, the city’s housing approval and development process is lengthy and complex, resulting in increased costs and high levels of uncertainty among developers. Delays can occur at every step of the process.”

The study, published last week, comes from the Los Angeles Business Council Institute (LABCI), part of the prestigious pro-business policy group whose leadership team includes executives from Rexford Industrial and Trammell Crow Company. The study was conducted by Edward Kung, professor of economics at Cal State University, Northridge, and Stuart Gabriel, director of UCLA’s Ziman Center for Real Estate.

Using a public dataset, the authors analyzed the timing of approvals for all multifamily housing projects (including fully affordable projects) permitted by the City of Los Angeles between 2010 and 2022.

Of the nearly 2,700 projects the city was allowing at the time, they found 1,712, or just under two-thirds, had been completed, while unfinished projects accounted for nearly 49,000 units that would otherwise have been added to the city’s housing stock.

This permissive pace puts Los Angeles nowhere close to meeting its housing goals. The total number of units allowed over the 12-year period is about 120,000, less than a third of the number of units that the state of California has determined the city needs to plan for from 2021 to 2029.

The LABCI report also breaks down project lag times by approval time and construction time, analyzing only projects that have actually been completed.

These projects spent an average of 549 days (just over a year and a half) waiting for entitlement. Once the city obtained building permits, the construction time for these projects averaged 863 days, or about two years and four months.

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“Because larger projects take longer to complete,” the report states, “the average residential unit takes even longer to complete than the average project.” The project is one year long.

The report also found that all affordable projects came to fruition a little faster, with an average total time of 1,307 days, or about three and a half years. Mixed income projects, on the other hand, were particularly slow, taking an average of 665 days to obtain title and another 917 days to build, for a total project time of 1,582 days, or about four years and four months.

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