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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2019 TOPIC AREA: Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: PSR

The Evolution of the Los Angeles Metro Rail Station Neighborhoods: Moves, Rents, and Permits

Project Summary

Project number: PSR-19-SP81
Funding source: California Community Foundation
Total cost: $70,000
Performance period: July 1, 2018 - Aug. 1, 2019

Project description

The Los Angeles rail transit system is the largest infrastructure investment in the City and County in decades. Transportation investments influence not only the way persons travel, but also the character of neighborhoods and the pattern of building, land use, and land prices. For that reason, rail transit generally and rail transit in Los Angeles have been increasingly caught up in the debate about displacement and gentrification. Do these investments increase housing prices in neighborhoods, forcing out the long-time residents who might most benefit from the new transportation options? This report is the result of a four-year research program that brings new data to bear on this question. It utilizes new data along with existing data sources to establish a fact base that can inform transit, housing, and land use planning in Los Angeles.

In its scope, this report poses and answers several questions:
  1. Do persons move out of rail transit neighborhoods more frequently after rail stations open? [see Chapter 3]
  2. When persons move away from rail, where do they move to and do they preserve or lose their rail transit access? [see Chapter 4]
  3. How does the rail system influence driving and transit ridership among households who live nearby? [see Chapter 5]
  4. What is the pattern of residential rents in Los Angeles rail neighborhoods, and have rents increased more quickly in rail neighborhoods than in comparable non-rail neighborhoods over time? [see Chapter 6]
  5. Do neighborhoods covered by the City of Los Angeles' Rent Stabilization Ordinance show a different pattern of resident moves or of long term rent increases than comparable non-RSO neighborhoods? [see Chapter 7]
  6. Where are new residential units being built in Los Angeles, and is the rail system being leveraged as a location for transit-supportive housing? [see Chapter 8]

The questions fall into two classes. First, what happens in the neighborhoods where Los Angeles Metro rail transit stations open? Transportation, and rail transit in particular, shapes neighborhoods. Second, what are the transportation impacts of Los Angeles' investment in rail transit?

Those questions are purposefully reversed from the usual order. Transportation professionals are adept at measuring transportation impacts - sensibly so - and their inquiries typically start there. Many times, the transportation community does not move on to ask questions about neighborhoods. Yet major transportation investments directly shape neighborhoods, highlighting the importance of first planning for those neighborhood impacts, and then linking to transportation impacts. After examining several questions in isolation, this report concludes with a discussion of housing and transportation policy in Los Angeles, and how those two must be better integrated.


Marlon Boarnet
Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs; Professor & Director of Graduate Programs in Urban Planning, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 301CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]


Raphael Bostic
Professor, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall 201CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]

Seva Rodnyansky
Assistant Professor, Urban and Environmental Policy
1600 Campus Road
UEPI 203Los Angeles, CA 90041
United States
[email protected]