Zoning Code

As genes determine people’s height and eye color, zoning dictates cities’ land use and built environment. The regulations in the City’s Zoning Code are expressions of the land use policies in the General Plan and Community Plans.

Through zoning, city governments transform broad policy goals into property-specific land use regulations. Zoning is a local government's primary tool for regulating development, determining the size, shape, style, location, and permitted use of buildings in a given area. Various kinds of land uses are grouped into general categories, or "zones," such as open space, agricultural, residential, commercial, manufacturing, and public facilities, each with its own set of standards. 

Understanding Zoning

In the City of Los Angeles, the first letter of the Zone Class indicates its use: O = open space; A = agricultural; R = residential; C = commercial; M = manufacturing; and P = public facilities. Subcategories of zones give more specific instructions about the uses allowed. For instance, the M3 Zone permits the manufacturing of chemicals, which would not be permitted in the less restrictive M2 Zone.

Uses that are allowed in more restrictive zones are usually also allowed in less restrictive zones. For example, the R4 Zone permits the construction and use of multi-family residential buildings, which would also be permitted in the less restrictive commercial zone of C2. In contrast, commercial uses permitted in the C2 Zone would not be permitted in the R4 Zone.

Zones also include Height Districts, which regulate buildings' height, Floor Area Ratio (FAR), and, in some cases, number of stories.

Generalized Summmary

Overlays apply additional layers of regulation to an area. Los Angeles uses numerous types of overlays to achieve specific goals. Some overlays restrict certain types of development, while others focus on maintaining the visual identity and character of a neighborhood. See the Guide to the Current Zoning String for more information.

The Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) maintains a helpful reference document, the Zoning Code Manual and Commentary.

Read the Zoning Code

Click below to read the City of Los Angeles’s Zoning Code.
Follow these steps to find out which zoning regulations apply to a property:

Start by looking up the property’s zone in ZIMAS.
Look up the zone in the Zoning Code.
Check if additional regulations and guidelines apply to the zone.

Understanding the Zoning of a Property

There are two steps to understanding a property’s zoning in Los Angeles. The first step is consulting a zoning map to determine which zone the property falls within. To use the City’s web-based zoning map, click the Zoning Information Map Access System (ZIMAS) button below. The second step is checking the Zoning Code to determine what can and cannot be built in the property’s zone and what uses are permitted. The Zoning Code spells out development regulations from the maximum allowable height, massing, and positioning of a building to parking requirements. Learn more in the Guide to the Current Zoning String.