Josh Altman says Beverly Hills has no room for affordable housing

Power real estate broker Josh Altman said it doesn’t make sense — or cents — to build affordable housing in Beverly Hills.

The star of “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” told FoxBusiness the ritzy city has no room for affordable housing, which doesn’t pencil out for developers.

Altman said a state-required plan to add more than 3,000 homes to Beverly Hills by the end of the decade is good in theory — but is “hurting” residents. The reality TV star said the city’s biggest problem is the lack of space, while joking that the top of a Louis Vuitton store could be housing.

His comments came on the heels of a judge’s decision to block building permits for home improvements in 90210 until the city certifies its state housing blueprint for more affordable homes. For now, permits are being issued pending an appeal.

“The greatest, grandest city on planet Earth, we’re talking about. The Beverly Hills Hotel, Rodeo Drive. We’re talking about Rolls-Royces and fluffy poodles. Some of the best movies ever filmed here in Beverly Hills. High-end everything,” Altman said to FoxBusiness’ Stuart Varney.

“I was in Dubai last week doing business, and someone said, ‘I love Los Angeles, we go to Beverly Hills to spend money,’” he told Fox viewers. “Now, I have no issue with the low-income housing that the judge wants us to put in Beverly Hills. They want almost up to 3,000 units built in Beverly Hills.

“The issue is, where? Where are we going to put it, and where are the things that are going to make people do this?” 

Under state law, Beverly Hills must plan for 3,104 homes, three-quarters of them affordable to low- and middle-income residents, by the end of the decade. But state housing regulators have rejected five housing blueprints from Beverly Hills since summer 2021.

That has left the celebrity-filled city open to the builder’s remedy, a loophole in state housing laws that allow developers to bypass local zoning rules in cities that have failed to get their plans approved. Builder’s remedy projects must include at least 20 percent affordable housing.

The city has a long way to go. Over the past eight years, Beverly Hills has managed to add just 20 units.

“Let’s talk about location first, OK. Before we get to incentives, where are we going to put it? Across the street from Prada and Gucci? You’re going to put it on top of Louis Vuitton? It just doesn’t work. There’s no room here,” Altman said.

And let’s talk about building, said Altman, who with his wife Heather bailed out of Beverly Hills in 2021, bought a 15,000-square-foot estate in Bel-Air for $6.1 million, then decided to skip town last year for a waterfront manse in Newport Beach, in Orange County.

“Right now, there are places where maybe you get four stories instead of, maybe make it where you can have eight stories built, so people can actually make money building these residences for low-income housing, which will make sense because it doesn’t pencil out right now,” Altman said of Beverly Hills.

“My issue is: why are you hurting my clients, the residents?” he asked. “Why are you hurting the person who just spent $15 million on a house that pays a lot of taxes to the city? Why aren’t you letting them get a pool for their kids? It doesn’t make sense. What does that have to do with the other thing?”

The irony: the campaign to get Beverly Hills to capitulate to more affordable housing is driven by a trade group for Realtors such as Altman.

Californians for Homeownership, a nonprofit sponsored by the California Association of Realtors, has sued a dozen cities across the state, including Beverly Hills, for failing to plan or zone for enough housing, according to CalMatters. It was the real estate brokers who secured the permit judgment against Beverly Hills for failing to pass its housing plan on time.

— Dana Bartholomew

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