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Los Angeles Needs Looser Zoning Regulations

Zoning–Past and Present

In the past, it was much easier for property owners to complete renovations, remodeling and additions with their property. For around the first 150 years or so of the United States existence, the government was viewed as having not much  say in how someone used their land.

The 20th century saw a change made to that relationship. At first, only New York City overflowing with population created zoning laws but in 1926 the Supreme Court gave neighborhoods the right to limit buildings to a single use (agriculture, business, residential, commercial, industrial, medical, etc). However; zoning laws really took off in the 1970’s as the rising generation, the baby boomers, began entering the workforce and purchasing property.

The Baby Boomers’ Effect on Zoning Laws

Suddenly, property became a high-value commodity; an integral part of the American Dream. Homeownership alone though was not enough. Along with owning a nice home, Americans wanted the surrounding comforts and facilities that we now consider a normal part of the neighborhood:

  • excellent infrastructure
  • top-tier schools
  • parks, zoos, museums and other cultural sites
  • reliable and nearby public transportation
  • access to jobs

All of those communal sites take up space resulting in city, state and federal zoning  tightening up laws to ensure that all residences had access to the above listed commodities. However, we eventually ran out of space.

While California’s population has continuously grown year over year, new constructions has not kept pace. Lack of space has meant a lack of new residences, which has kept new construction down and also created a high-priced rental housing market that most Californians can’t afford. It has also kept citizens of the state from being able to afford the houses that are built. As of 2017, California lagged 10% behind the U.S. average in homeownership.

Making a Change

To combat this growing problem, the LA City Council has approved a huge number of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) construction permits; allowing new rental units to be built which will alleviate some of the rental crisis. To do this, Los Angeles eased up on the city’s zoning laws. By simply changing the law to allow more ADUs, ADU construction permits jumped from 90 in 2015 to 1,980 in 2017.

With meaningful change like that, the state government is making zoning changes as well. These changes include:

  • Offering help to homeless people to transition them off the streets and into housing
  • making it easier to get permits for housing projects
  • lowering the environmental studies related to affordable housing projects
  • changing zoning codes to increase efficiency of new construction
  • building shelters for the homeless population

Los Angeles’ Progressive Zoning Changes

Whenever the government has eased up zoning regulations, it has stimulated increased housing construction and alleviated pressure from the swell of renters looking for a place to live. With more housing comes more affordable prices, which allows people who were living on the streets due to high rents to be able to once again afford an apartment. The more red zoning tape that Los Angeles’ government removes, the easier it will be to solve the housing crisis in the city and provide homes for each Californian.

To find out more about how the changes in Los Angeles’ zoning laws affect you, contact us.