A new ordinance wending its way through the approval process could streamline the development of housing in Los Angeles County's unincorporated communities.

The By-Right Housing Ordinance, which is scheduled for consideration at the June 17 meeting of the Regional Planning Commission, would allow developments that conform to established zoning and land use regulations to be approved without review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Projects eligible for streamlining must be located outside of:

  • Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones; Coastal Zones;
  • Significant Ecological Areas;
  • Hillside Management Areas; and
  • Outside of the 70 or above decibel Community Noise Equivalent Level contour of an airport influence area.

Eligible projects must also be located on properties which front public streets and are already connected to public sewer and water services.

The proposed ordinance would permit the development of multi-family housing by-right in the following zones:

  • Two-family residences: C-H, C-1, C-2, and C-3;
  • Apartment houses: R-2, C-H, C-1, C-2, C-3, and C-MJ; and
  • Townhouses: R-2, C-H, C-1, C-2, C-3, C-MJ.

Housing would also be permitted with discretionary review in certain zones, including live/work and mixed-use developments on commercially zoned properties.

Conversely, the ordinance increases the level of review for proposed live/work developments in the C-M zone.  A staff report cites healthy and safety as the cause for this change, as these zones also permit industrial uses.

The ordinance would extend by-right review to density bonus projects which include extremely low-income and moderate-income units, as well as those seeking a 35 percent or greater density bonus.  The ordinance would also reflect the state legislation AB 1763, which grants a more generous density bonus for 100 percent affordable housing developments.

Other elements of the proposed ordinance are intended to encourage the development of new duplexes and triplexes, as well as establish design standards for mixed-use buildings.

The By-Right Housing Ordinance is subject to approval by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at a future date.

The proposed ordinance dates to a February 2018 motion from Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl which called for a suite of new policies to address housing affordability in unincorporated communities.  In addition to the by-right housing ordinance, the Supervisors called for new legislation to preserve naturally-occurring affordable housing and introduce an inclusionary zoning requirement for areas under their land use authority.