Who's Right in the Informal Housing Debate?

When Los Angeles County Planner Jonathan P. Bell wrote about informal housing in the region, several commenters responded. So Bell decided to answer questions and critics.

1 minute read

November 18, 2014, 9:00 AM PST

By melaniecj

The debate over how to best address illegal garage conversions and other informal housing issues needs to be a healthy one where all sides come to the table.

Jonathan P. Bell, an urban planner with Los Angeles County, and former zoning enforcement planner, believes in dialogue so much, that after writing a piece about the growing scholarship in the area of informality in the housing market, he returned to respond to questions and criticisms raised by his readers.

Informal housing is not the remedy for an overcrowded and expensive housing market in Los Angeles, according to Bell. He goes on to discuss several other issues raised by readers and emphasizes the importance of regulation and the permitting process.

Bell also calls for the dialogue to continue among planners, code enforcement officers, and regulatory agencies.

“All sides of the informal housing debate need to talk, listen, and learn from each other. In the interest of improving research and practice, planning academics should be consulting with regulatory authorities to gain their perspectives on informal housing. Inspectors, more than anyone else, have an intimate understanding of the causes and consequences of informality, and the effectiveness of municipal responses to it.”

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