Citing a continued loss of affordable housing in the communities flanking USC, a member of the Los Angeles City Council is seeking to strengthen zoning rules which restrict the development of student housing in Exposition Park and University Park.

The North University Park-Exposition Park-West Adams Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay District, enacted in 2008, was intended as a tool to protect rent stabilized and naturally occurring affordable housing units in the area roughly bounded by the 10 Freeway, the 110 Freeway, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Normandie Avenue.  Property owners or project applicants within this area are required to seek a conditional use permit whenever seeking to reconfigure any single-family dwelling or apartment to include five or more habitable rooms - a layout which lends itself to student housing.


However, the success of the overlay district has come into question, according to a motion introduced on September 30 by 8th District Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

"Since its implementation twelve years ago, there continuous [sic] to be a loss of affordable housing within the boundaries of [the district]," reads the motion.  "As such, community members and other civic stakeholders are seeking to understand why despite the implementation of land use controls, there continues to be a loss of affordable housing and an overconcentration of student housing near the University Park/Expo Park community."

Harris-Dawson's motion, which has been referred to the Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee for first consideration, calls for the Planning Department and City Attorney to draft a report with recommendations to address the depletion of rent-stabilized units in the community, as well as the perceived overabundance of student housing developments.

The motion requests that the report explore how small lot subdivisions could be used to serve households of different sizes and income levels within the USC-adjacent neighborhoods, and also the possibility of expanding the boundaries of the overlay district to include properties as far west as Western Avenue.  Should the boundaries be revised, the overlay district's relevant projects would be redefined to include any project creating a unit with four or more habitable rooms, with the exception of new developments explicitly defined as co-living or student housing.

Additionally, the requested report is expected to consider the possibility of creating a specific plan or other zoning rules for the overlay district which would account for the development of family-sized affordable units in conjunction with historic renovation, student housing, and co-living projects.

The motion from Harris-Dawson comes as the University Park and Exposition Park communities have seen new plans for a handful of purpose-built student housing developments, many of which are concentrated on Figueroa Street along the eastern side of the USC campus.