If cities were living organisms, zoning would be their genetic code. As genes determine people’s height and eye color, zoning dictates cities’ land use and built environment.

How Zoning Works

Zoning is local governments’ primary tool for regulating the development and use of properties. Through zoning, city governments transform broad policy goals into property-specific requirements.

Zoning determines the size, shape, style, and location of buildings in a given area. The regulations in the City’s Zoning Code are expressions of its long-range land use policies.

Zoning in LA

Los Angeles's General Plan articulates the City’s vision for land use which ultimately guides the zoning for each property. Within the General Plan, the City’s Community Plans constitute the Land Use Element. Each Community Plan is composed of a policy document and an accompanying general land use map.

The adopted land use designations of each plan provide a range of zones that implement established policies of the plan. Each Community Plan’s zoning map implements the plan’s policies by displaying the zone that each property is subject to.

The City’s Zoning Code is the book that contains the primary rules and regulations associated with the zones displayed on the zoning map. Additional layers of zoning regulations are located within overlays in clearly defined geographic areas of the City.

A New Code for LA

City Planning is in the process of comprehensively updating the City’s Zoning Code. The goal of the new Zoning Code is to offer a new set of zoning tools to meet the evolving needs of the City’s neighborhoods in a simple, easy to use, and web-based format. The new Code will be implemented across the City as existing Community Plans are updated. (Click here to read more about the ongoing Community Plan Updates.)