“We have to go higher-density,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. He acknowledged, however, that change can be painful. “Density in some places is still a fighting word,” Kyser said. “To many people density means great big, blocky buildings, more traffic and the threat of undesirable people moving into the neighborhood.” In Pasadena, for example, planners purposely targeted residential development to downtown areas as a way to protect single-family neighborhoods, yet residents still saw it as a threat to traditional suburban-style living. The trend is inevitable, Kyser said, but the challenge is to find a way to increase density without degrading the quality of life suburbanites have come to cherish. “We need new ideas in high-density residential de- sign,” Kyser said. “We have enough brain power. Let’s go to Caltech and say, `What would you do?’ and then let’s do it.” Although poorer families are hurt most by skyrocketing real estate prices and rents, the search for affordable housing has become a major concern for the middle class as well. One population in particular is gaining attention from housing advocates: the children of current San Gabriel Valley homeowners. As they try to remain in place, they are looking to their parents for help with a down-payment on a house or condo, or even to afford the monthly rent on an apartment. If that fails, they often turn to “innovative” lending mechanisms – negative-amortization loans or mortgages with variable interest rates or 40-year terms – to make up for their low down-payments. According to Joe Carreras, regional planner for the Southern California Association of Governments, 90 percent of home buyers used a fixed-rate loan in 2000. Today, only 50percent of home buyers do. Meanwhile, the percentage of home buyers with variable-rate or negative-amortization loans has jumped to 10percent, from 1 percent six years ago. “We are seeing that people are moving out of California or, more typically, staying \ longer because it is difficult to afford a home in today’s market,” Carreras said. Once again, experts say condo developments provide an affordable solution, offering young families an entree into the market and the ability to start building equity in their property. “You get a condo, then you get a little better condo, and then a home,” Baugham said, adding, “This is an old issue, but new to us.” [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4458160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The high cost of housing will permanently alter the landscape of the San Gabriel Valley, as developers build taller and denser projects to meet a seemingly insatiable demand. The trend has already taken hold in a few cities, such as Pasadena, Alhambra and Pomona. But with people continuing to flood into the Southland, experts say condominium and mixed-use complexes will be coming to a downtown near you. “This is part of a transition from broad open space to a crowded urban environment,” said Vance Baugham, director of business development for the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. “This is what we found on the East Coast for 100 years or more. It is our time to adjust.” As the population in Los Angeles exploded after World War II, there seemed to be an almost inexhaustible supply of land in the surrounding valleys for families who wanted a house, a yard and some space to stretch out. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88Now, with almost every strip of land filled, and the equivalent of two cities the size of Chicago moving into the L.A. area by 2030, the single-family home has become a luxury. A recent report from the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, a regional planning board, said that a family needs an annual income of $100,000 to buy a median-priced home here – an increase of 36 percent from four years ago. By comparison, the median family income in Los Angeles County rose by just under 14 percent over the same period, to $56,200. Younger families especially are finding it harder than ever to buy into the local market. They are forced to borrow heavily – be it from mom and dad or an “innovative” lender – to buy a home here. Experts say mixed-use and multi-family complexes are needed to provide affordable housing alternatives.