Proposed zoning law change could mean flood of new apartments in LA

Opponents of a proposed statewide bill worry it threatens the character of the city’s single-family neighborhoods

Single family home (Credit: LHA)
Single family home (Credit: LHA)

A bill in the legislature that is meant to address California’s shortage of housing could lead to thousands of homes in Los Angeles being replaced with apartments, according to the city’s department of city planning.

SB 827, written by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would allow for significantly more dense construction around transit in parts of L.A. The bill, still in draft form, is also intended to help reduce greenhouse emissions.

The bill essentially overrides local zoning laws.

It would allow from five to eight stories on parcels within a quarter mile of a bus that stops every 15 minutes during rush hour, and between four and five stories on parcels within a half mile of a “major transit stop.”

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The Los Angeles Times calculated that 190,000 parcels in L.A. would be affected. Large swaths of the city, including entire neighborhoods like Koreatown, South L.A., and Downtown would undergo a comprehensive zoning change.

Backers of the bill say it’s the best — or only ­— way to provide housing that Californians need. Opponents worry the bill threatens the character of the city’s single-family neighborhoods and would encourage homeowners to sell to developers who could now make more money with a larger development with more money-making units.

Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke out against the bill earlier this month, arguing that it doesn’t do enough to protect rent-stabilized tenants or existing affordable buildings. In its current form, however, the bill would require developers that demolish any existing occupied building to pay those tenants’ rent for up to 42 months, then give them a unit in the new building at their existing rate for at least one year.

Garcetti’s spokesperson Alex Comisar has called the bill “too blunt for single-family areas,” indicating that Garcetti shares concerns about its impact on neighborhood character. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch