LA City Council begins implementing state law that allows denser housing
On the heels of a state bill allowing up to four units on single-family zoned lots, the Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to begin steps to implement the denser housing law locally.
Senate Bill 9, introduced by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, allows lots zoned for single-family housing to have up to four units. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on Sept. 16.
The Los Angeles City Council, with some members saying that it didn’t include affordable housing requirements, opposed the bill in a resolution on Aug. 18.
Proponents of the law say allowing denser housing on single-family lots will help alleviate the housing crisis, while many opponents claim it could change the character of single-family neighborhoods and increase gentrification at the benefit of real estate interests.
The council passed a motion Tuesday introduced by councilmen Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield — and seconded by Councilwoman Nithya Raman — that instructed city planners and the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety to prepare a memorandum to guide all city departments and agencies until the city officially adopts an ordinance to implement the law.
The motion also instructed the Department of City Planning to recommend standards on how the law will be implemented, including lot design, parking, limits on total dwelling units on substandard streets and more. Planners will also submit a report to clarify exemptions for zones with high fire risk, protected species, horse keeping, substandard roadways and other areas that could be adversely impacted by the new denser housing law.
“Clear rules are needed so constituents know what to expect,” Koretz said before the vote. “… We must ensure proper grading, erosion control, prevention of damage to offsite property, fire safety and most importantly, protection of the fragile environmental resources that we have in the city.”
Councilman Gil Cedillo — the only member to dissent on the council’s resolution opposing Senate Bill 9 — said before Tuesday’s vote that he welcomed the new state law and said it presented an opportunity for the city to fix problems with land use in the city.
“The questions of density, the questions of housing stock, the questions of equity, all of these questions can be addressed by SB9. This is an opportunity for us,” he said. “The Legislature acted because we failed to act. The Legislature acted because we are in a crisis in terms of not having adequate housing stock. … So this is an opportunity for us, with SB9, to finally address some of the structural and deep-seated problems that exist, frankly, racist challenges that exist within our planning and housing development within the city of Los Angeles.”