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Re:Code LA Provides the First Update to Los Angeles' Zon...

Re:Code LA Provides the First Update to Los Angeles' Zoning Code in Sixty Years

The last time the City of Los Angeles updated its zoning code was when it was first adopted in 1946. Now, more than sixty years later, the zoning code has grown from an 84-page pamphlet to a book spanning more than 600 pages. The amendments, conditions, and overlays that have been added throughout the years

Re:Code LA Community Planning Forum, Los Angeles, California

The last time the City of Los Angeles updated its zoning code was when it was first adopted in 1946. Now, more than sixty years later, the zoning code has grown from an 84-page pamphlet to a book spanning more than 600 pages. The amendments, conditions, and overlays that have been added throughout the years have made it a burdensome, unclear, and complicated document for present day development of the City of Los Angeles.

But what is a zoning code? Put simply, it is a set of rules that regulate what can be built, where it can be built, and how it is used. For example, it specifies how tall a building can be, what industries are allowed in what areas of a community, and how much parking is required in an apartment complex.

Aware of this reality, the Department of City Planning has undertaken the cumbersome task of updating the zoning code. Known as Re:code LA, the project seeks to do a comprehensive revision of a code that is considered to be inadequate towards fulfilling a vision for a 21st century Los Angeles. The Re:code LA project began in 2013 and is expected to be completed in 2017. It is estimated that the five year project will cost $5 million. Some of its features include:

  • Dynamic Web-Based Zoning Code: A clear and predictable Code that better meets the needs of the City of Los Angeles, while also providing an interactive online experience.
  • Guide to Zoning: An easy to read guide to the new Code’s land use and development regulations.
  • Unified Downtown Development Code: New zoning tools customized for Downtown Los Angeles.

Zoning in South Los Angeles, California

Re:code LA aims to achieve the following goals:

  • Make it easier to understand for everyone.
  • Make it more business-friendly.
  • Streamline and in some cases speed up the review process.
  • Consolidate as many uses as possible into more comprehensive categories of use.

A revision to the zoning code is necessary in a city that is the second largest in the United States. Inhabited by 3.8 million people, this metropolis is comprised of a variety of neighborhood and landscape types that include dense urban areas, such as Koreatown, and suburban single family neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley.

However, the current update to the zoning code should not be confused with a change of policy. For example, if you work in a commercial area, Re:code LA will not change it into a residential area. To achieve a change in zoning policy in the City of Los Angeles, one would have to undergo a separate process, which begins by filing a zone change application.

What measures is your local government taking to address current and future development in your community? What zoning code regulations have you found beneficial in the sustainable development of your community? Share your thoughts and city's stories in the comments area below.

Credits: Images by Marisol Maciel and Audelia Maciel.  Data linked to sources.

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Marisol Maciel-Cervantes is currently pursuing a M.S. degree in GIST from the University of Southern California (USC). In addition, she holds a MPL degree from USC. She also obtained a B.A. in Ethnic Studies and Political Science from the University ...

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