A case where “renters rule”? The motivations for rental housing policy in one Southern California city

Document Type


Publication Date



UCLA Department of Urban Planning Luskin School of Public Affairs


Housing unaffordability has become a crisis in many metropolitan areas today, including Los Angeles. Housing supply restrictions and a lack of funding for affordable housing preservation and production are often blamed for this crisis. A prevailing explanation for restrictive housing policies is that homeowners (“homevoters”) use their electoral infuence to protect their home values. But what happens when renters outnumber homeowners in a city? Do renters rule? To better understand local political motivations, I analyze the determinants of housing policy in West Hollywood, an incorporated Southern California city with relatively extensive affordable housing programs and policies. I fnd that there are four explanations for West Hollywood’s rental housing policies: (1) renters compose the majority of the city’s households, (2) pro-rental policies are part of both the city’s history and future vision, (3) new affordable housing is compatible in scale and design with existing housing, and (4) most of the responsibility for producing or preserving affordable housing is borne by local property owners and developers.