As part of its effort to zone for at least 255,000 additional homes by 2029, the City of Los Angeles is relying on community plan updates, a citywide adaptive reuse ordinance, and other initiatives to bring homes to high-opportunity areas. A motion introduced last week by 13th District City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez aims to add one more tool the kit.

Soto-Martinez's motion, which has been referred to the Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee for consideration, proposes changes to the "Public Facilities Zone" zoning and land use designations which are applied to many city-owned properties. Currently, parcels in this zone have no inherent density rights, although they can be developed based on the density and zoning rules of neighboring parcels. In the case of public facilities land located within commercial districts, this could clear the way for dense multifamily housing. Conversely, sites surrounded by single-family or industrial zones cannot accommodate housing without a time-consuming zone change process.

To ease the way for redevelopment of public facilities land, Soto-Martinez has proposed an amendment to Section 12.04.089 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code which would remove zoning and density limits on the public facilities zone, as well as other city-owned parcels for which the majority use is civic purposes and publicly-owned affordable housing.

The motion also requests a report from the Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Legislative Analyst on what city department would take the lead in the development of affordable housing on public property, as well as the distribution of duties between relevant departments.

The motion suggests that public land could offer a chance for new projects making use of the Mayor's Executive Directive 1, which has quickly become the most popular tool for new applications for affordable housing developments in Los Angeles. According to the motion, Executive Directive 1 has reduced the average review period from six months to roughly 37 days.

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