The Los Angeles-Santa Ana-Long Beach Metro Area is now, by one measure, the most expensive big-city region in the country in which to buy a home; the average home price is nine times the average income. The vacancy rate for apartments in Los Angeles County, with 10 million people the nation’s largest, is now 3.3 percent — lower than in New York City.

The tightest of these concentric circles, the City of Los Angeles, is about to hit its development limit. According to planner Greg Morrow, the city is now zoned to house at most 4.2 million people. The current population is 3.9 million.

Los Angeles and its satellites — once the land of the American homeowner dream — now form the most stunted urban region in the country. There were 28,000 new housing starts in the L.A. Metro last year (pop. 13 million), versus 64,000 in Houston (pop. 2 million). There were fewer permits per capita in Los Angeles than in San Francisco.

This has become expensive for homeowners and tenants alike. The former spend 40 percent of their income on mortgage payments; the latter spend 48 percent of their income on rent. Both figures are the highest in the country.

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