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LA City Council Passes Planning Reforms, Addresses Affordable Housing Shortage
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved revisions to the City’s Housing Element that would establish one of the most ambitious rezoning programs in the nation and address the systemic inequity in planning and land use policies that has contributed to the city’s current housing crisis.
“The housing crisis is one of the biggest and most pressing issues facing our city,” said Council President Nury Martinez. “While other cities have pushed back against their building obligations, our City has embraced this opportunity to develop one of the boldest housing plans in the nation and we hope to not only meet, but exceed, this challenge.”
The proposed changes will set new citywide strategies in motion to achieve a more equitable distribution of affordable housing across Los Angeles. The ambitious rezoning program would rezone parts of the city, in order to allow for over 250,000 new housing units within three years of the plan's adoption. This plan puts Los Angeles on track to meet the state’s request for nearly 500,000 new units by 2029.
In addition to housing production, the plan also focuses on preventing displacement and advancing racial equity and opportunity. The Housing Element includes anti-displacement strategy studies, eviction defense programs, inclusionary zoning studies, a Citywide Housing Needs Assessment, and a focus on rezoning in higher opportunity areas.
This vote comes after a Martinez-Harris-Dawson motion that passed in August calling for housing reforms that would combat the City’s housing shortage. The motion directed the city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation to be focused on high opportunity areas of the city near jobs and transit, expanding existing programs that give incentives for developers to include affordable housing in new buildings and ensuring that Community Plan updates have housing goals based on equity. These goals were further detailed in a letter sent by Martinez to the Director of City Planning Vince Bertoni on the Draft Housing Element and was co-signed by six other Council Offices.
"The Plan to House LA is designed to protect the most vulnerable Angelenos from displacement, eviction, and homelessness," said Director of Planning, Vince Bertoni. "It centers racial equity and environmental justice at the forefront of our planning considerations, aligning Los Angeles' citywide land use strategies to improve future access to housing, preservation, and production."
For decades, the City of Los Angeles, the surrounding region, and the State have critically underbuilt housing. This shortage has led to the city having some of the highest rents and home prices in the nation. The biggest impact of our housing shortage is on working class families of all backgrounds, who find themselves facing exorbitant rents and rendering the American Dream of homeownership and upward mobility out of reach.
The city will have three years to create ordinances to put these policies into effect. Technical amendments to the City’s Safety and Health Elements were also passed to reflect the update of the Housing Element in accordance with state laws. Rezoning will take effect through active community and neighborhood planning efforts, citywide rezoning efforts, and affordable housing incentive programs.