The House LA Initiative introduced by Councilmember Gil Cedillo, Chair of the City's Housing Committee, addresses the housing crisis in Los Angeles and the need to build more housing.

The Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG) 2014-2021 Regional Housing Need Allocation Plan (RHNA) determines a need for 412,716 additional housing units in the 6-county region, with 82,002 of these units allocated to the City of Los Angeles. This need is divided among various income groups, including 20,427 for very-low income households, 12,435 for low-income households, and 13,728 for moderate-income households. This means a production rate of approximately 10,250 units/year (5,823 affordable/year). 

However, due to budget cuts and the dissolution of the CRA, the Housing and Community Investment Department of Los Angeles (HCIDLA) can only commit to financing approximately 500 units per year in the new Housing Element (2014 - 2021).

the initiative includes  

  • Expansion of Expedited Processing Section in Planning 
    • Expedites the EIR process in the Planning Department, which could provide a 30%-50% time savings. 
  • Site Plan Review Modifications 
    •  Amends the site plan review ordinance, including the option to increase the threshold from 50 residential units, and re-examine the approval process as a strategy to increase the City’s affordable housing production. 
  • Permitting Micro Unit Housing 
    •  Evaluates the Greater Downtown Housing Incentive Ordinance as a model to encourage the production of micro-units, the potential impact micro-units can have on our affordable housing needs, and the benefit of expanding this model to apply to other geographic areas of the City. 
  • Deferring Fees 
    •  Evaluates which ‘use’ fees could potentially be deferred and collected until the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for a residential development. 
  •  Expanding the Use of Shared Vehicles 
    •  Permits the substitution of one shared vehicle for every 4 required parking spaces for residential or mixed-use buildings located on or within . mile of a transit corridor. 
    • Calls for vehicular parking regulatory reform with an analysis of strategies to reduce and/or eliminate parking requirements based on selected criteria, including but not limited to certain types of developments, specific zones and proximity to transit. 
  •  Facilitating Accessory Dwelling Units 
    • Identifies options for preserving unapproved second housing units, including measures utilized by other jurisdictions to preserve unapproved units. 
    • Calls for an ordinance that prescribes a permit process to allow the development of Accessory Dwelling Units in accordance with Assembly Bill 1866-- encourages Accessory Dwelling Units by requiring cities to reduce or eliminate local barriers to their development. 
  • Using City Owned Land As Sites for Affordable Housing 
    •  Identifies city-owned properties that may be potential sites for the development of affordable housing. 

LABC Support 

To help increase the City of Los Angeles’ housing production, the LABC has worked with City Council Housing Committee Chairman Gil Cedillo to develop policies designed to reform the current permitting system. This includes the proposals designed to expedite the environmental review process dictated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and increase the City’s staffing capacity, including the use of technical specialists, to ensure timely review of environmental documents required under CEQA.

The numbers reveal the importance of continued development reform. Currently, 49 projects totaling nearly 25,000 units of newly-proposed housing units are in the City’s approval pipeline, and are subject to environmental impact reports (EIRs) – voluminous documents that require extensive staff time to prepare and modify throughout the city approval process. That is in addition to over 600 additional environmental cases pending in the Planning Department. The Planning Department estimates that the average processing time for an EIR is 12-18 months. Expanding the Expedited Process Section of Planning will allow for the average EIR time to be reduced significantly. These projects represent billions of dollars in investments and tens of thousands of jobs and if delayed or deterred will be of great cost to the City. 

Site plan review modifications were a key recommendation from the LABC Institute’s “LA’s Next Frontier” report. The City’s current site plan review process on projects that result in an increase of 50 residential units or 50,000 square feet of non-residential floor area is detrimental to attracting new construction. This process adds time, cost and potential conditions of approval. We would support increasing the current 50 unit threshold for site plan review. We also agree with the recommendation, as stated in “LA’s Next Frontier,” that projects that comply with underlying zoning, meet design guidelines and reach local affordability goals should be exempted from site plan review.