LA weighs stricter rules for resi development near freeways

Living near those roadways can harm health, but tighter restrictions could exacerbate the housing crisis

A freeway in Los Angeles (Credit: Pixabay)
A freeway in Los Angeles (Credit: Pixabay)

As city planners take on the monumental task of updating Los Angeles’ land use code, they are weighing strict new rules for residential development near the freeways.

The new rules could include specific planning zones near freeways, design guidelines for projects, and requirements for parking for zero-emission vehicles, according to Curbed. Federal and state agencies agree that people living near major roadways are at a greater risk for asthma, cardiovascular disease, childhood leukemia, and premature death.

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Details on those guidelines are scarce, but Planning Commissioner Dana Perlman said in November he would not support projects near freeways with balconies. The city provides developers with guidelines for building near freeways but currently only requires freeway-adjacent to install air filtration systems for interior spaces, according to Curbed.

The new rules could greatly complicate residential development in already dense residential neighborhoods amid a ballooning housing crisis, considering how many freeways snake through the city and the great number of residential areas surrounding them.

The number of people living near highways has skyrocketed in recent years as well — the city approved 7,300 new homes within 500 feet of a freeway in 2015 and 2016, according to a 2017 Los Angeles Times analysis. The number of people living within 500 feet grew by 3.9 percent between 2000 and 2010. [Curbed] — Dennis Lynch