Dear Angelenos:

As winter approaches, it is clear that the fight against COVID-19 will continue into 2021. The human and economic costs of the pandemic have touched all our lives. If there is a silver lining for City Planning, it's that the year's extraordinary circumstances have allowed us to step back, take a look at how we work, and bring our services up to date.

In 2020, we've identified and implemented new ways of using technology to be more innovative, resilient, and responsive. One of the biggest changes is that applicants no longer have to wait for an appointment to file a project application, since this and other services are now available online.

Webinars and video conferencing software have also helped reinvent how we conduct hearings and outreach. Since the start of the pandemic in March, we've held more than 450 virtual hearings, and even seen record levels of interest in this year's series of Planning 101 trainings.

These enhancements build on the improvements we’ve made over the last few years—
shortening case processing times, providing more personalized customer service, and developing new policies to assist on the jobs and housing fronts.

Together, we are Planning4LA.
Vince Bertoni,
Director of Planning
City Proposes Ban on Private Detention Centers
On October 23, City Planning released a draft ordinance that would amend the Zoning Code to expressly prohibit the operation and construction of private detention centers in Los Angeles. Modeled after Assembly Bill 32, the proposed provisions would establish clear and consistent language in the City’s Zoning Code to properly enforce this prohibition in Los Angeles.

The draft ordinance would also explicitly prohibit accessory uses or incidental activity related to “community detention facilities for unaccompanied minors” and “private detention centers,” in the aftermath of a firm’s 2019 attempt to open a privately run detention facility in Arleta.

Staff will be available during scheduled virtual office hours to answer questions and will also host a public hearing on November 12 to receive public comments, which they will incorporate into the staff recommendation report to the City Planning Commission in December 2020.

Local Emergency Code Amendment Proposed to Aid Small Businesses
On October 19, City Planning released a draft ordinance that would grant small businesses relief from certain land use regulations during a state of emergency. Referred to as the “Local Emergency Code Amendment,” this ordinance would allow applicants to qualify for time extensions for certain planning approvals in the event that financing falls through for a project.

Additionally, the Local Emergency Code Amendment would allow businesses to flourish along Los Angeles’s commercial corridors by encouraging them to start up in vacant spaces that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. In particular, the ordinance would ease the process for granting change of use permits without triggering new parking requirements, provided that the property is under 5,000 square feet and is not expanding beyond the existing footprint. These projects would be eligible for administrative approvals that would not rise to the level of discretionary review.

In the coming weeks, staff will hold a public hearing on the draft ordinance, prior to preparing a staff report for consideration by the City Planning Commission. The ordinance will then advance to the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee before going to the City Council.

Per-Night Fee Supports
Home-Sharing Program
On October 15, the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee recommended approval of a draft resolution that established a per-night fee rate for home-sharing in Los Angeles. Once adopted by the full City Council, the $2.93-per-night fee would be collected from participating hosts and used to offset the City’s costs associated with the administration, monitoring, and enforcement of the Home-Sharing Ordinance.

Adopted in December of 2018, the City’s Home-Sharing Ordinance established a regulatory framework to prevent the wholesale conversion of homes into permanent rental properties by limiting short-term rental activity to one's primary residence. Since the start of enforcement in November 2019, Los Angeles has witnessed nearly a 80 percent decrease in listings, resulting in new long-term housing options for thousands of individuals and families across the City.

Given the budgetary impacts associated with COVID-19, the Per-Night Fee will help offset General Fund revenue, as delegated under the Home-Sharing Ordinance, increasing the cost recovery associated with the services provided under this new program from 27 to 86 percent.

Superior Court Rules in City’s Favor on Hollywood Project
On October 13, the California Superior Court issued a decision in favor of the City in a case brought by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and Coalition to Preserve LA (Coalition). In his ruling, Judge Fruin upheld the City's use of the Sustainable Communities Project Exemption (SCPE) for a proposed 26-story tower project that would replace the Amoeba Records store in Hollywood.

The petition primarily focused on an argument that the project violated Community Redevelopment Law and the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan. AHF and the Coalition argued that the project did not set aside the amount of affordable housing (15 percent) required by State law and the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan. Judge Fruin ultimately sided with the City, noting that the appellants had already lost on this argument in a prior case involving the Crossroads project.

He went on to state in his ruling that the 15 percent mandate was no longer in effect as a result of the dissolution of the former California Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Even if the mandate were still in effect, Judge Fruin found that it would not be a requirement of privately funded or individual projects; instead, it would function as a stated goal for the entire plan area that the City would need to demonstrate that it has met prior to the dissolution of the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan in May of 2027.

The California Supreme Court also ruled this month not to review the Court of Appeal decision in favor of the City of Los Angeles in another lawsuit brought by AHF. In this case, AHF challenged the approval of four projects in Hollywood (Sunset Gordon, Palladium Residences, Crossroads, and Amoeba) on the grounds that they would further displacement and gentrification in Hollywood. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court, holding that these allegations did not state a claim under state and federal Fair Housing Laws.

Southland Regional Association of Realtors 
On October 5, City Planner Blair Smith was invited by the Southland Regional Association of Realtors to give an update on housing policies and trends in Los Angeles. The board meeting, held virtually in keeping with stay-at-home orders, provided City Planning with an opportunity to engage local stakeholders on topics ranging from the Housing Element to ongoing efforts to amend the Density Bonus Ordinance.

With over 63 percent of Angelenos living in rental units and the City’s housing stock aging, the Department is expanding production to respond to the evolving needs of its growing population. While it may seem that Los Angeles has experienced a “building boom” in recent years, in reality, only 25 percent of the housing units in the City were built after 1980. As a consequence of the lack of supply, six in 10 renters in Los Angeles are “rent-burdened,” meaning that they spend more than a third of their monthly earnings on housing.

As cities across California adopt alternative models for housing ownership, the Housing Element will play an increasingly important role in local discussions. Every eight years, the State provides the number of housing units that should be accommodated in the Southern California region. As a part of the Housing Element, Los Angeles must demonstrate to the State that there is available capacity for the units allocated to the City. Blair explained that the City must plan for approximately 455,000 units of housing as part of the ongoing update to the Housing Element—184,000 of those units would be reserved affordable for lower income individuals and households. She concluded her remarks with a look at the Density Bonus Ordinance and the myriad ways of streamlining the production of new affordable housing units the Department is currently exploring.
Chief Equity Officer Meets the Community 
City Planning’s newly appointed Chief Equity Officer Faisal Roble and his office are spearheading the Department’s efforts to combat systemic racism. As Faisal and his team develop a Racial Equity Action Plan to address the legacy of racism in planning practices, they are also working with the City’s Racial Equity Task Force to promote justice throughout local government, in addition to working closely with the Mayor’s Office on a citywide plan.

On October 29, Faisal was featured in a speaker series hosted by the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning in honor of National Community Planning Month. The series’ theme, “Equitable Processes Build Great Communities,” intends to spotlight communities impacted by the role of land use planning in perpetuating inequities and segregation in our cities. Faisal’s keynote discussion of the Racial Equity Action Plan closed out the series.

On October 30, Faisal appeared on Spectrum News’ Inside the Issues with Alex Cohen to discuss how equitable city planning can bridge Los Angeles’s racial divide. His role will help address implicit bias in City Planning policies and outreach and critically examine the ways bias permeates every aspect of civic life, from climate events and housing to health disparities and lack of economic development in communities of color.
Housing Element Webinars
This November, City Planning will be launching the Concepts phase of its two-year outreach plan to update the Housing Element (The Plan to House LA). This phase offers an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the Plan’s “draft concepts,” or guiding priorities.

As a citywide policy document, Los Angeles’s Housing Element plays an important role
in setting the City’s long-range vision. The Housing Element integrates housing and growth strategies to support the City’s economic interests and housing needs. Through the implementation of the policies and programs set forth in the 2021–2029 Housing
Element, the City will further encourage the production and preservation of housing units and work toward meeting its Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).

As part of the Department’s continuing outreach efforts, City Planning will be hosting three live webinars with Q&A to receive feedback on the draft concepts that will guide housing decisions over the course of the next eight years. Click on one of the links below to register.

Hearings and Events
Development Trends
In September, the number of applications completed was 12.4 percent higher than in August, reflecting a continuing upward trend in projects the Department has deemed complete. This positive increase reflects a stark reversal from the months following the stay-at-home orders. As one illustration of the trend, the total number of applications completed in September (625) is 5 percent higher than the monthly average for 2019 (598).
Hollywood Community Plan Update Webinar
On October 22, the Hollywood Community Plan Update team hosted a webinar to share the latest policy and zoning recommendations, including strategies for accommodating more housing and jobs in balance with the historic character of the area’s neighborhoods. City Planning will host a second webinar on November 18 to collect additional feedback. (Register for the English or Spanish session).

The main components of the Hollywood Community Plan Update are:
The City Planning Commission will consider the Hollywood Community Plan Update in early 2021.
  • Extended the comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Draft Plan to December 4, 2020, providing additional opportunity for public comment
  • Conducted virtual office hours in September 2020
  • Released updated Draft Zoning, Plan Text, Land Use Map, and Community Benefits Program in August 2020
  • Released Draft EIR in August 2020 for a 120-day comment period
  • Conducted office hours in January and February 2020
  • Released Draft Zoning in October 2019
  • Released Draft Plan and Land Use Map in July 2019
  • Preparing for Fall 2020 Public Release of Draft Plan
  • Preparing Environmental Impact Report 
  • Released online Draft Land Use Concepts in 2018
  • EIR Scoping Meeting planned for 2021
  • Hosting Venice Coastal Zone SurveyLA update meeting in November 2020
  • Summarizing public input and revising Draft Concepts 
  • Conducted a series of Office Hours in September 2020
  • Released Draft Concepts and held virtual open house webinars in July 2020
Bradbury Building
Central Los Angeles is home to many unique and memorable buildings. One is the neighborhood’s oldest commercial building, constructed in 1893 at the corner of Broadway and Third. In contrast to the unassuming Romanesque style of its facade, the Bradbury Building’s true treasure hides within its doors: the light-filled atrium, constructed in a Victorian style.

Lewis Leonard Bradbury, a successful 19th century American businessman who made his fortune in Mexico’s mining industry and California real estate, initially commissioned Sumner Hunt to design the building. Ultimately, construction was completed under the oversight of George H. Wyman, Hunt’s apprentice, who Bradbury believed better understood his vision for the building.

The Bradbury Building has appeared in many different movies throughout its long history, including Blade Runner, 500 Days of Summer, and The Artist. In 1962, in recognition of its important role in the City’s history, the Bradbury Building was designated as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
This month, the City Planning Commission approved a new three-story, 40-unit multi-family project at 6817 North Winnetka Avenue in the Canoga Park–Winnetka–Woodland Hills–West Hills Community Plan area. The building will include two units set aside for Very Low Income Households. 

An open-air rooftop amenity space will serve as open space for project residents with outdoor seating and a barbeque area. The project will provide 21 one-bedroom units and 19 two-bedroom units, adding an important mix of family-sized units, including restricted affordable units, for the community. 
Consistent with Mayor Garcetti's directive on COVID-19, City Planning is conducting meetings remotely by telephone and Zoom. See the Events Calendar for a full list of upcoming events.
November 5
November 7
November 10
November 17
November 17
November 17
November 18
November 18
November 18
November 19
November 19
November 20
November 21
November 21
Sign up to receive citywide planning updates by email.