Westlake abandoned its affordable housing requirements a decade ago. Things have changed

Los Angeles /
Oct.October 08, 2019 11:00 AM
 LA City Councilmember Gil Cedillo and Jade Enterprises’ Sapphire development (credit: Scott L on Flickr)
LA City Councilmember Gil Cedillo and Jade Enterprises’ Sapphire development (credit: Scott L on Flickr)

About a decade ago, Westlake abandoned its affordable housing requirements for developers, after one prominent developer Geoff Palmer, appealed.

With Los Angeles’ housing crisis growing ever worse, things have changed.

Now, the city is looking to formally reinstate that a so-called “inclusionary zoning rule” that would again require developers to include affordable units.

The requirement was set aside years ago following an appeal by Palmer — a prolific multifamily developer — but changes to state law since then mean the requirement is valid again. The city has been enforcing it for the last year and now Councilman Gil Cedillo wants an ordinance to formalize that, according to Curbed.

The ordinance would add clarifications to planning documents regulating development in the neighborhood, and phase in the affordable requirements over a 120-period following its adoption to ease the burden on developers.

The inclusionary zoning requirements date to 1991. They require developers to reserve a certain percentage of new units for low-income renters. In 2009, Palmer challenged the requirement in state court after the city decided he must reserve some low-income units at his 350-unit Piero II project.

Palmer successfully argued that inclusionary zoning violated the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995, which regulates rent rules across the state. In late 2017, the state passed Assembly Bill 1505, amending Costa-Hawkins and allowing for inclusionary zoning.

The city started to enforce inclusionary zoning last year, but there’s still some debate over the requirement. L.A.’s Transit Oriented Communities program encourages affordable construction near transit by providing developers who build there with incentives. But it doesn’t require the construction of affordable units.

In Westlake, developer Jade Enterprises planned its 369-unit apartment in the neighborhood, presuming the rule was not in effect. But last year, the city decided Jade must set aside 15 percent of the units as affordable, or about 55 units.
Jade successfully appealed the decision and is moving ahead without affordable units. [Curbed] — Dennis Lynch


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