New Code

Several years ago, City Planning set out to create a modern and efficient zoning system for Los Angeles. The proposed approach aims to establish a new Zoning Code that is more responsive to the needs of Los Angeles’s neighborhoods, in addition to being easier to use.

While conventional methods of zoning have traditionally focused on prohibiting incompatible uses, the new approach focuses on the physical design of a building as well as its use. As City Planning launches updates to its 35 Community Plans, new zoning will be developed to implement the policies and goals for the different neighborhoods across Los Angeles.

The proposed zoning structure consists of five key parts or “districts”: Form, Frontage, Development Standards, Use, and Density. While Form, Frontage, and Development Standards regulate the built environment, Use and Density refer to the activities allowed on a site.

Zoning String Explanation

drawing of form districts

Form Districts
Form Districts determine how large buildings can be.

drawing of frontage districts

Frontage Districts
Frontage Districts influence how buildings appear from the street level, from their proximity to the street to their ground floor height requirements.

drawing of development standards districts

Development Standards Districts
Development Standards Districts regulate certain design elements around the building, including those relating to access, parking, and signs.

drawing of use districts

Use Districts
Use Districts determine what kinds of activities are allowed on a property―ranging from residential to commercial and, in some instances, a mix of uses.

drawing of density districts

Density Districts
Density Districts determine the number of housing units permitted on any site zoned for residential units.

 

Project Update

The new Zoning Code consists of 15 articles, which collectively make up the new zoning system. In October 2019, the articles related to Form, Frontage, Use, Density, and Development Standards were provided to the public for initial review. City Planning plans to release most of the remaining articles focusing on the rules of measurement, applicability, and various other procedures in the coming months, after which the Administration and Fees articles will follow suit.

9 - Public Benefit Programs
10 - Streets and Parks
11 - Division of Land
12 - Nonconformities
13 - Administration [Scheduled for future release]
14 - General Rules & Definitions
15 - Fee [Scheduled for future release]

This new draft Zoning Code is being incorporated across the Downtown Community Plan (DTLA 2040), which will be the first plan area to apply the new zoning. The draft Downtown zones can be accessed using the story map. Following Downtown, Boyle Heights will follow suit. After Boyle Heights, select neighborhoods located in the Harbor, the Southeast and Southwest San Fernando Valley, and the Westside, will soon thereafter apply the new zoning.

Zoning Code History

1904

In 1904, Los Angeles adopted an ordinance that established the nation’s first land use restrictions—prohibiting industrial uses in residential districts. Four years later, the City enacted its first zoning ordinance and divided the City into industrial and residential districts.

1946

The number of ordinances regulating land use in Los Angeles eventually grew to 11, resulting in the adoption of a new ordinance in 1946 that consolidated the existing regulations. Over the next four decades, changes to the zoning code occurred incrementally.

1921

In 1921, the City established a zoning ordinance that separated Los Angeles into five zones, identified by letters ranging from A to E to outline the allowable uses onsite: A = single-family homes; B = non-residential; C = industrial; D = heavy industrial; and E = unlimited.

2013

In 2013, City Planning set out to create a modern zoning system. This project is a comprehensive revision to the City’s Zoning Code intended to provide a more flexible range of zoning options that speak to the local architecture, history, and vision of its neighborhoods.

1930

The next major shift in Los Angeles's zoning structure was the adoption of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance in 1930, at which time three main zones to regulate existing land uses (R = residential; C = Commercial; and M = Manufacturing were created), along with several sub-categories.

2020

City Planning unveiled its new zoning framework for Los Angeles—a responsive, modern, and tailored system that will eventually be applied citywide.

Zoning Timeline

1904

In 1904, Los Angeles adopted an ordinance that established the nation’s first land use restrictions—prohibiting industrial uses in residential districts. Four years later, the City enacted its first zoning ordinance and divided the City into industrial and residential districts.

1921

In 1921, the City established a zoning ordinance that separated Los Angeles into five zones, identified by letters ranging from A to E to outline the allowable uses onsite: A = single-family homes; B = non-residential; C = industrial; D = heavy industrial; and E = unlimited.

1930

The next major shift in Los Angeles's zoning structure was the adoption of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance in 1930, at which time three main zones to regulate existing land uses (R = residential; C = Commercial; and M = Manufacturing were created), along with several sub-categories.

1946

The number of ordinances regulating land use in Los Angeles eventually grew to eleven, resulting in the adoption of a new ordinance in 1946 that consolidated the existing regulations. Over the next four decades, changes to the zoning code occurred incrementally.

2013

In 2013, City Planning set out to create a modern zoning system. This project is a comprehensive revision to the City’s Zoning Code intended to provide a more flexible range of zoning options that speak to the local architecture, history, and vision of its neighborhoods.

2020

City Planning unveiled its new zoning framework for Los Angeles—a responsive, modern, and tailored system that will eventually be applied citywide.