INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF ISSUES
The purpose of this Housing Chapter in the Framework Element is to present an overview of the critical issues related to housing in Los Angeles, provide goals to guide future action, and policies to address housing issues. The Framework Element provides policy to further goals stated in the recently adopted Housing Element (November 1993) incorporated herein by reference, and provides policy direction for future amendments to the Housing Element. In addition to these longer-range policy documents, the City Council has recently adopted a Consolidated Plan planning document, required of jurisdictions seeking Federal housing and community development funds, to identify citywide housing needs in the future.
SUMMARY OF HOUSING ISSUES
The adopted Housing Element of the general plan and the technical analyses and public input to the Framework Element focus on the following major housing related issues: capacity for the development of future housing units; incentives and barriers to housing production; stability and enhancement of liveable neighborhoods; the relationship between jobs and housing; housing quality and type; cost; rehabilitation and reuse of existing building stock for all City residents of all income levels.
Housing production has not kept pace with the demand for housing. Between 1980 and 1990, the City's population increased by approximately 522,000 or 18 percent while the number of households (occupied units) increased by only 80,000 or 9 percent. Furthermore, the areas of the City in which the population growth showed the greatest increase does not directly correlate with those areas where housing growth occurred.
Currently, the City of Los Angeles has insufficient vacant properties to accommodate the cumulative amount of population growth which has been forecasted. The supply of land zoned for residential development is the most constrained in the context of population growth forecasts. Thus, should growth and new development in the City occur, most likely it will require the recycling and/or intensification of existing developed properties or conversion of certain uses, where there is insufficient market demand, to an alternative use.
In many cases, the intensification of both commercial and residential development which has occurred in the City has been at the expense of the integrity and character of existing residential neighborhoods. A balance is required between the need to produce new housing units and the desire to conserve the liveability and character of existing neighborhoods. Existing single-family neighborhoods are important components of the City's urban character, and residents have expressed a strong desire to preserve their stability. The City also has a variety of existing multi-family neighborhoods, many of which have retained high levels of liveability. Residents do not want to feel overwhelmed or overburdened by the changing character of their communities as the City adapts to its growing and changing population.
The physical design of many multi-family residential projects has been out of scale and incompatible with the character of existing residential neighborhoods. Many multi-family developments have been constructed cheaply and without design amenities. The "big stucco" box is fairly typical of many areas of the City. As a consequence, many residents of the City's neighborhoods oppose the further development of multi-family housing, though it is needed.
Existing units often do not meet the needs of potential residents because the units are small (in number of rooms) and lack usable open space. A concentration of large households in many communities suggests the need for an increased supply of larger housing units. According to the 1990 Census, 22 percent of all occupied units are overcrowded (units that have more than 1.01 persons per room), in contrast to 13 percent in 1980.
The locational relationship between jobs and housing is an issue in Los Angeles. The distribution and extensive coverage of single-family units throughout the City coupled with their physical separation from commercial services, jobs, recreation, and entertainment necessitates the use of the automobile and results in a high number of generated trips and distances traveled. This has resulted in increased traffic congestion and air pollution.
The cost of housing is an issue throughout the City. Between 1980 and 1990, the percentage of households that pay more than a third of their income for housing increased from 29 percent to 35 percent. Affordability is particularly a problem to families with very low- and low-incomes. Over 70 percent of very low-income families spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Some areas of the City have overconcentrations of low-income housing and other areas have very little housing available even to moderate-income families.
Real income has not kept pace with dramatic increases in housing costs. Over the past two decades the median value of a residential unit rose 615 percent compared to a 195 percent increase in real income. High land costs and a cumbersome, unpredictable permitting process are often cited as factors contributing to the high cost of new housing and related lack of housing affordable to very low; low; and moderate-income households in Los Angeles
The City must strive to meet the housing needs of the population in a manner that contributes to stable, safe, and liveable neighborhoods, reduces conditions of overcrowding, and improves access to jobs and neighborhood services, particularly by encouraging future housing development near transit corridors and stations.
The policy direction of the Framework Element particularly in the Land Use, Urban Form, Economic, and Transportation Chapters significantly furthers the City's adopted goals for housing as stated in the adopted Housing Element and substantially addresses a number of housing issues stated above.
The adopted goals of the Housing Element are:
- An adequate supply of housing accessible to persons of all income levels
- Sufficient ownership and rental housing to meet the City's needs
- Housing production incentives for for-profit and non-profit developers of housing for low- and very-low income households
- A reduction in barriers leading to more housing
- Housing opportunities accessible to all City residents without discrimination, including groups with special needs
- A City of residential neighborhoods that maintains a sense of community by conserving and improving existing housing stock
- Housing, jobs, and services in mutual proximity
- Energy efficient housing
Goals found in other chapters of the Framework Element which address housing issues include:
Goal 3A Physically balanced distribution of land uses. Goal 3B Preservation of the City's stable single-family residential neighborhoods. Goal 3C Multi-family neighborhoods that enhance the quality of life for the City's existing and future residents. Goal 3I A network of boulevards that balance community needs and economic objectives with transportation functions and complement adjacent residential neighborhoods (mixed-use boulevards). Goal 3M A City with significant historic and architectural districts. Goal 5A A liveable City for existing and future residents and one that is attractive to future investment. A City of interconnected, diverse neighborhoods that builds on the strengths of those neighborhoods and functions at both the neighborhood and citywide scales.
The Framework Element housing goal which encompasses those above is:
A distribution of housing opportunities by type and cost for all residents of the City.
The Framework Element provides policy to achieve this goal through a number of measures:
Framework Element policies address providing additional capacity for new housing units, encouraging production of housing for households of all income levels, while at the same time preserving existing residential neighborhood stability and promoting liveable neighborhoods by the following measures: (1) concentrating opportunities for new multi-family residential, retail commercial, and office development in the City's neighborhood districts, community, regional, and downtown centers as well as along primary transit corridors/boulevards; (2) providing development opportunities along boulevards that are located near existing or planned major transit facilities and are characterized by low-intensity or marginally viable commercial uses with structures that integrate commercial, housing, and/or public service uses; (3) focusing mixed commercial/residential uses around urban transit stations, while protecting and preserving surrounding low-density neighborhoods from the encroachment of incompatible land uses.
To promote neighborhood liveability, Framework Element policies encourage well designed, distinct residential neighborhoods that are linked to a network of greenways; provide for the location and design of buildings to maintain the prevailing scale and character of the City's stable residential neighborhoods and implementation of streetscape and open space amenities that enhance pedestrian activity; maintain significant historic and architectural districts while allowing for the development of economically viable uses. Framework Element policies require that new multi-family dwelling units be designed to convey a high visual quality and provide amenities for the residents, mitigate impacts of traffic and noise, and incorporate recreational and open space amenities to support the needs of the residents.
Neighborhood liveability is also enhanced by policies for upgrading the quality of development within the neighborhoods and public realm, providing a transition between residential neighborhoods and their centers; providing a distinction among roadway user priorities to foster pedestrian streets where appropriate; and policies for providing usable open spaces within walking distance of surrounding neighborhoods.
Improvement of the jobs and housing relationships in sub-areas of the City may be accomplished through the re-use of commercially zoned corridors and development at transit stations which afford the opportunity for the development of a mix of uses, housing, local retail, and offices, and can improve localized jobs and housing relationships.
Living in proximity to transit and within mixed-use developments can reduce the number of trips people take in their cars, providing some people with the opportunity to walk between their home, job, and or neighborhood services. Framework Element policies encourage future development in centers and in nodes along corridors that are served by transit and are already in physical or activity centers for surrounding neighborhoods, the community or the region. Policies also call for maintaining and expanding neighborhood transportation services and programs to enhance neighborhood accessibility to jobs and essential services.
The adopted Housing Element identified the Framework Element project as a vehicle through which to address the concept of Fair Share Allocation which is a means to distribute housing opportunities by type and cost more evenly citywide. The Framework Element addresses the concept of distribution of opportunities by encouraging market opportunities in housing development and land use patterns that offer a diversity of housing types, thus providing the foundation for better, more widely available housing options.
The policies of the Land Use Chapter provide adequate amounts of residential land use and density to accommodate the projected need for housing to beyond the year 2010, both citywide and by community plan area, and additionally provide substantial opportunity for new housing to be developed as a part of mixed-use development on land designated for commercial uses. Increasing the availability of land suitable for residential development through measures such as streamlining and minimizing the review process to encourage the location of new multi-family development along commercial corridors and in mixed-use developments in designated targeted growth areas provides an opportunity to build housing with appropriate amenities at less cost.
In order to promote production of housing at reduced cost, in addition to the above measures, the Framework Element policy is intended to move development decision-making away from discretionary case-by-case reviews, towards a more streamlined and predictable permitting process. Once a comprehensive planning process establishes the City's direction and vision, this direction will be refined and applied through the community plan public process at the local level. The Community Plan Update process will involve defining the precise boundaries of various land use designations, specifying densities within the density ranges provided by Framework Element, developing standards tailored to each community plan area from the menu provided in the Framework Element, and incorporating measures to promote new housing development for all income groups. With well defined and consistently applied rules, development applications can proceed through a straightforward and predictable process thus providing certainty to both the community and to potential developers. Reducing unpredictability in the development process reduces the cost of production.
GOALS, OBJECTIVES, AND POLICIES
The following presents the goals, objectives, and policies related to housing in the City of Los Angeles. Programs that implement these policies are found in the last chapter of this document. Programs are referenced after each policy in this document.
An equitable distribution of housing opportunities by type and cost accessible to all residents of the City.
Plan the capacity for and develop incentives to encourage production of an adequate supply of housing units of various types within each City subregion to meet the projected housing needs by income level of the future population to the year 2010.
4.1.1 Provide sufficient land use and density to accommodate an adequate supply of housing units by type and cost within each City subregion to meet the twenty-year projections of housing needs (see Figure 4-1). (P1, P18) 4.1.2 Minimize the overconcentration of very low- and low-income housing developments in City subregions by providing incentives for scattered site development citywide. (P1, P18) 4.1.3 Minimize the over concentration of public housing projects in a City subregion. (P1, P2, P23) 4.1.4 Reduce overcrowded housing conditions by providing incentives to encourage development of family-size units. (P2, P24) 4.1.5 Monitor the growth of housing developments and the forecast of housing needs to achieve a distribution of housing resources to all portions of the City and all income segments of the City's residents. (P42) 4.1.6 Create incentives and give priorities in permit processing for low- and very-low income housing developments throughout the City. (P2, P23) 4.1.7 Establish incentives for the development of housing units appropriate for families with children and larger families. (P23) 4.1.8 Create incentives and reduce regulatory barriers in appropriate locations in order to promote the adaptive re-use of structures for housing and rehabilitation of existing units. (P2, P18) 4.1.9 Whenever possible, assure adequate health-based buffer zones between new residential and emitting industries. (P1, P18)
(Other relevant Framework Element policies that achieve Objective 4.1:
Land Use Policies 3.1.1, 3.1.4, 3.1.5, 3.1.8, 3.3.2)
Click here to view Figure
City Subregions Map
Encourage the location of new multi-family housing development to occur in proximity to transit stations, along some transit corridors, and within some high activity areas with adequate transitions and buffers between higher-density developments and surrounding lower-density residential neighborhoods.
(Other relevant Framework Element policies that achieve Objective 4.2: Land Use Policies 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 3.4.1, 3.4.3, 3.8.1, 3.13.1, 3.13.2, 3.13.3, 3.13.4, 3.13.5, 3.13.6, 3.15.4)
4.2.1 Offer incentives to include housing for very low- and low-income households in mixed-use developments. (P2, P23)
Conserve scale and character of residential neighborhoods.
(Relevant Framework Element policies that achieve Objective 4.3: Land Use Policies 3.1.8, 3.2.4, 3.1.5, 3.5.2, 3.5.3, 3.5.4, 3.6.1, 3.7.1 - 3.7.4, 3.17.1)
Reduce regulatory and procedural barriers to increase housing production and capacity in appropriate locations.
(Other relevant Framework Element policies: Land Use Policies 3.4.3)
Take the following actions in order to increase housing production and capacity:
a. Establish development standards that are sufficiently detailed and tailored to community and neighborhood needs to reduce discretionary approvals requirements.
b. Streamline procedures for securing building permits, inspections, and other clearances needed to construct housing.
c. Consider raising thresholds for categorical exemptions for CEQA clearances for projects conforming to the City's development standards, particularly when housing is combined with commercial uses in targeted growth areas.
d. Consider establishing City service which assists applicants in processing applications for housing projects.
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