The Los Angeles City Planning Commission Thursday recommended the City Council adopt the proposed 2021-29 Housing Element, which would serve as a guide for city housing policy for the next eight years and accommodate the production of nearly 500,000 new units.
The city’s housing policies are currently guided by the Housing Element updated in 2013. The new update, called “The Plan To House L.A.,” requires final approval from the City Council, and will next be reviewed by the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
City planners say the goal of the update is to provide an ample supply of housing that creates more equitable and affordable options for Angelenos; to preserve and enhance quality of housing and provide greater stability for households of all income levels; to create healthy, sustainable and resilient communities that improve the lives of all L.A. residents; to foster racially and socially inclusive neighborhoods; and to commit to preventing and ending homelessness.
Los Angeles needs to produce about 57,000 units per year to keep up with housing demand, but since 2014, it has been producing only about 16,700 units per year, according to the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, a process required by the state that aims to ensure cities and counties plan for enough housing in their Housing Element.
Additionally, it needs about 23,000 new affordable units per year, but only about 1,650 affordable units have been produced per year since 2014.
According to the RHNA, the city must accommodate at least 456,643 new units by 2029, with at least 184,721 of them being affordable for lower income households.
City planners have identified a potential for 230,964 new units in the city, with about 72,650 being for lower income. The remaining required units would be produced following a three-year process to rezone parts of Los Angeles.
That process, which would increase density in resource-rich neighborhoods that have been historically limited to single-family-only uses, would seek to accommodate at least 255,415 units to address the city’s housing shortage.
The number was increased from just under 220,000 in its first draft of the Housing Element Update following the City Council’s request for the equitable rezoning program to be increased to 300,000.
City planners say the updated 255,415 units are enough to meet the demand in the Regional Housing Needs Assessment.
“In general, the program emphasizes increasing access to Higher Opportunity areas of the city, particularly near jobs and transit and along major corridors, while protecting socially and environmentally sensitive areas such as fire zones and areas susceptible to sea level rise,” according to the city’s Department of City Planning.
City Planner Matt Glesne reported to council members on Aug. 17 that, between 2009 and 2020, 15,886 units of affordable housing were produced in the city, but the distribution was uneven.
Councilman Gil Cedillo’s District 1 had the most produced, with 2,423, while Councilman John Lee’s District 12 produced only 40.
Glesne also said that a majority of affordable housing is not produced in “high opportunity areas” that have access to transit, jobs and other amenities. About 76% of the “highest resource areas” are zoned only for single-family homes, while just 18% of “high segregation and poverty areas” are zoned for single-family homes.
Glesne said the city’s Housing Element Update, which will be presented to the council later this year, will tackle these issues.
Once the Housing Element Update is adopted, the city will have two years to create ordinances that put the policies into effect.
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