Zoning Code

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. The regulations in the City’s Zoning Code are expressions of the land use policies in the General Plan and Community Plans.

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 is a less restrictive use than those allowed in the M2 Zone.

Uses that are allowed in more restrictive zones are usually also allowed in less restrictive zones. For example, almost anything may be built in a M3 Zone except residential structures, while only single-family homes can be built in an R1 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.