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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Planning Commission has approved 90% of zoning amendment applications since 2000

Both supporters and opponents of Measure S agree that the system of exceptions is broken
February 10, 2017 10:30AM

Attendees at a planning commission hearing (Credit: Beezley Management)

Measure S proponents do get one thing right: Most developers seeking changes to zoning really do end up getting their way.

Since 2000, the L.A. Planning Commission has approved nine out of every 10 projects that request general plan amendments, zoning changes or height restriction changes, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of nearly 1,000 cases.

The investigation also found that there were at least a dozen cases in which a project was rejected by the city commission but that decision was later reversed by the City Council. One such case was that of the Harbor Gateway project, which was headed by a developer who gave more than $600,000 to L.A. politicians and their causes.

The overwhelming rate at which city officials grant amendments attests to L.A.’s dysfunctional zoning and land use protocols, critics say. Measure S supporters claim this is precisely why a two-year moratorium would be useful — in that it would push the city to update the general plan and the zoning ordinance.

But city officials and developers argue that a moratorium would be prevent them from building at a time when the city is in dire need of affordable housing. A alternative solution, they say, would be to update the city’s 35 community plans under the general plan, which lay out the vision for land use in every L.A. neighborhood.

“Zone changes will dramatically decrease once [the] community plans are updated,” a spokesperson for Councilman Jose Huizar, who heads the planning and land use committee, told the Times. [LAT]Cathaleen Chen