A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.
UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future. Growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.
CITY OF L.A. PROPOSES MAJOR CHANGES TO ZONING CODE AND PROJECT APPROVAL PROCESS
The City of LA has released a proposed New Zoning Code which will be a radical departure from the existing Zoning Code. There's no question that the current Code is extremely complex and out of date, but there are some serious questions about what the City Plans to replace it with. At the same time, the New Zoning Code contains the proposed Processes & Procedures Ordinance, which would make significant changes to the project approval process.
In addition, the City is also moving toward finalizing updated Community Plans for Downtown and Hollywood. In both cases the new Plans allow for significant upzoning without making any realistic proposals for improved infrastructure.
UN4LA urges neighborhoods councils and community groups to review these proposals, to attend workshops and hearings and to submit comments. The proposed ordinances and plans will set the stage for the City's future growth, and the public's voice must be heard. See below for more info on these proposed changes.
NEW PROCESSES FOR PROJECT APPROVALS
The LA Department of City Planning (DCP) is proposing a new approach to projects approvals, the Processes and Procedures Ordinance. This is the second time in recent years that the City has proposed such an ordinance, and the first effort did not go over well with many community groups. The text of the ordinance released in 2018 seemed designed to give more power to unelected bureaucrats while limiting public engagement in the planning process. There is good reason to believe the new ordinance will take the same approach.
The DCP has posted an overview of the proposed ordinance on its web site, which includes an annotated version. Community groups should take the time to study it and provide comments. If the ordinance is adopted, it will make major changes to the project approval process.
Processes + Procedures Ordinance
NEW ZONING CODE
The City of LA has released a proposed New Zoning Code which would represent a radical departure from the existing Zoning Code. While no one can argue the fact that the existing Code needs to be overhauled, there are also reasons to be concerned about New Zoning Code. To start with, it's a Form Based Code. With the existing code, the primary focus is use, but with the new code the focus will be built form. The new code is organized around the following "districts":
In the LA Department of City Planning's (LADCP) explanation, it all sounds great, but it would be wise to maintain a healthy skepticism. To begin with, while the City claims their goal is to simplify things, the New Code appears to be rather complicated. In the case of Form Districts alone there are 21 separate categories, and within some of these categories there are multiple sub-categories. Also, most of these Form districts include built-in density bonusses, meaning that the project applicant can create a larger project if they provide a percentage of affordable housing or other community benefits.
This may sound like a reasonable trade-off, but the City has already been approving density bonusses for years, and this has led to a system where about 90% of new housing is built for Above Moderate Income Households, while Moderate Income, Low Income and Very Low Income households get to compete for the remaining 10%. Aside from hard-wiring the system to produce an ingrained housing imbalance, the potential for gentrification is very real. Nashville, Denver and Cincinnati have all adopted Form Based Code zoning systems, and all are seeing high rates of gentrification and displacement.
Follow the link below to take a closer look at the proposed New Zoning Code.
New Zoning Code Introduction
UN4LA FILES SUIT TO OVERTURN APPROVAL OF PROJECT INVOLVING DEMOLITION OF 40 RSO APARTMENTS
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council approved the demolition of 40 rent-stabilized units at 1719 Whitley to make way for a new hotel. Why the Council would do this, given their repeated reminders that we're dealing with a severe housing crisis, is hard to fathom. (The vote would have been unanimous, except for Councilmember David Ryu, who cast the lone vote against.) UN4LA has filed suit to overturn approval of the project, because we believe the City needs housing far more than it needs hotels. In addition to approving the demolition of the existing units, the Council also allowed the developer to avoid legally required environmental review. The project site is surrounded by numerous residential uses, and is directly adjacent to a senior housing project, but the Council apparently doesn't think the construction of a 10-story hotel which routinely hosts special events will be problem for the neighbors.
We'll see what the courts have to say.
INGLEWOOD TREASURER ASKS TOUGH QUESTIONS ABOUT CITY FINANCES
Inglewood Treasurer Wanda Brown has been a frequent critic of the city’s financial practices, asserting that elected officials have misled city employees and the public about the budget. Brown questions whether Mayor James Butts, City Manager Artie Fields and others have been responsible stewards of the city’s finances. Follow the link for more details.
Inglewood Treasurer’s Report Questions “Special” Payroll Run Despite Budget Deficit
FEDS CHARGE FORMER DEPUTY MAYOR RAY CHAN WITH CORRUPTION
In the latest development in the Department of Justice investigation of corruption at LA City Hall, former Deputy Mayor and LADBS General Manager Ray Chan has been charged with RICO conspiracy, bribery, honest services fraud and lying to federal agents. In addition to Chan, the new indictment also charges two other individuals and two companies with participating in corruption related to development.
New Indictment in RICO Case Against Former L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar Adds 5 Defendants