After nearly 10 years, the City of Los Angeles is preparing to reinstitute mandatory affordable housing set-asides for developments in part of Downtown.

The Department of City Planning has unveiled a draft ordinance to reimplement the inclusionary housing provisions of the Central City West Specific Plan.  The plan dictates land use regulations and development standards for the west side of Downtown Los Angeles - an area bounded roughly by the Harbor Freeway on the east, the Hollywood Freeway on the north, and Olympic Boulevard to the south.

A brochure produced by the Planning Department states the proposed amendments will make changes that include:

  • Modifying how affordable dwelling units are calculated to align with State Density Bonus law - a percentage applied to the base density rather than total units proposed;
  • Adding the extremely low and very low-income categories as additional options to comply with the Specific plan's inclusionary housing requirements;
  • Replacing the Specific Plan's Housing Linkage fee and In-Lieu Fee with commensurate fees required by the Citywide Affordable Housing Linkage Fee Ordinance; and
  • Phasing the implementation of the modified InclusionaryHousing Requirements.

Specifically, the draft language would require either:

  1. a 15 percent low-income housing set-aside;
  2. an 11 percent very-low-income housing set-aside; or
  3. an 8 percent extremely-low-income set-aside.

The proposed amendment to the specific plan - which will affect any residential or mixed-use development consisting of 11 or more dwelling units - will be implemented in phases.

A motion introduced earlier this year by Councilmember Gil Cedillo indicates that any rental housing project with an active building permit application or complete planning application will be exempted from the policy for the first 120 days following the ordinance's effective date.  From 121 days and onward, a project would be required to provide one-third of the total affordable requirement or an in-lieu payment, then two thirds after 306 days.  The ordinance would go into full effect 485 days after its effective date.

The item is scheduled for a public hearing at the City Planning Commission on November 8, 2018.

The City West Specific Plan featured an inclusionary housing requirement as part of its original adoption, but saw that provision stripped following the 2009 court case Palmer/Sixth Street Properties, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles, in which the 2nd District Court of Appeal found that said provisions were pre-empted by the statewide Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.  After nearly a decade, the "Palmer Fix" was found earlier this through AB 1505, which frees Los Angeles and other jurisdictions to implement inclusionary housing requirements if they so choose.

While the proposed specific plan amendment moves forward at the local level, a broader debate over rent control and affordable housing is playing out statewide.  On November 6, voters will decide whether or not to approve Proposition 10 - which would repeal the Costa-Hawkins act and allow jurisdictions to enact new rent control policies for the first time in two decades.