Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Contentious Density Bonus Bill in Council on February 6th

The City of Los Angeles has many ordinances which dictates development such as the hillside ordinance, the retaining wall ordinance, the slope density ordinance, etc. The following is information on proposed legislation known as a "density bonus." This is one perspective however as with most issues, there are those who support and those who oppose. In case anyone has been following this issue or has an interest, it is going to City Council tomorrow.

Land Use
Edited by Sara Epstein

The controversial and so-called Density Bonus bill lands on City Council desks on Wednesday. The long-running debate on this ordinance (AB1818) is expected to continue in council chambers. The following information may help prep you for attending or watching the show.

Council File Number: 05-1345
What: Density Bonus and Incentives Ordinance (AB1818)
When: Wednesday, February 6, 2008-10 a.m.
Where: City Hall-Council ChambersCouncil

Some perspective from CityWatch reader Yuval Kramer... The Los Angeles City Council will vote on the Density Bonus and Developer Incentives Ordinance, otherwise known as the SB 1818 implementing ordinance this Wednesday, February 6, at their 10 AM meeting.

Only a fraction of the changes that County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky wanted were included. In fact, Councilman Reyes only gave Zev's representative ONE minute to speak at PLUM! It should be noted that Garcetti's amendments (that occurred after Zev's statements) do primarily the following: 1) limit the height incentive to 11 ADDITIONAL feet or one ADDITIONAL story, 2) prohibit the HEIGHT incentive ONLY for that portion of a project that is WITHIN 50 FEET of R1 and R2 and more restrictively zoned lots (note that R3 lots do not receive this protection), and 3) prohibit all incentives for projects located on a substandard street in a Hillside Area or a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (this could be legally challenged in the future by developers, because the state law mandates certain entitlements, and does not create this exception).

This ordinance is NOT narrowly tailored to comply with the state law, SB 1818, but rather is even more generous to the developers (and, by the way, SB 1818 is a scam: over development in the name of affordable housing, a giant gift to the developers in this State that takes away control over city planning from Cities). The city ordinance also REDUCES NOTICE to neighbors (less people are notified, and the time period in which they have to respond is compressed, as is the time involved for the whole process, in order to benefit developers and put the residents at a disadvantage) of projects and REDUCES their ability to APPEAL to the City Council, which the state law does NOT require.

The City is choosing to help developers, and residents will often only be able to have a hearing IF they appeal the Planning Department's decision, and will only be able to appeal to Commissions, NOT to the City Council (the State law of course does not mandate these deprivations of Procedural Due Process). Finally, SB 1818 enumerates instances where the City could deny density bonuses or incentives (i.e., worse-case scenario applications), but the LA city ordinance eliminates these; in other words, the City is tying its own hands!

Councilmembers will also lose the ability to weigh-in on projects in their own districts (because appeals will not be able to reach the City Council in many instances and because the Planning Department will not get to weigh-in at all in some instances), as will the Planning Department! Meanwhile, Weiss will parachute out to become City Attorney and the Mayor will parachute out to a state or national position, while our neighborhoods are destroyed by the developers.

Most neighborhood councils and residential associations are not up to speed on this ordinance, as it is complicated (SB 1818 is complicated, too) and the city has not made a real effort to inform them and seek their input, for obvious reasons. Some Councilmembers also do not fully understand the ordinance and its implications, and some would appear to be catering to the developers who fund their campaigns.

Story reprinted from www.citywatchla.com

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