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Back to You, Planning Dept: City Responds to Zoning Code Lawsuit

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Frank Mateljan, spokesperson for the City Attorney's office, says his office hasn't had time to read and respond to that lawsuit filed yesterday over the city's zoning code change. But Alan Bell, AICP, Acting Deputy Director at the Planning Department, does have a statement about the suit: "Los Angeles is a big, diverse city that consists of many neighborhoods each with their own needs. Unfortunately, our existing, citywide zoning codes - which are 'one size fits all' - are not structured to address unique community issues. How can we solve that problem? Through the recently adopted Community Plan Implementation Overlay ordinance, an innovative new zoning tool that allows neighborhoods to partner with the Planning Department to develop customized rules and standards.

Cary Brazeman's lawsuit is based on a misunderstanding and a misreading of the Community Plan Implementation Overlay ordinance. As adopted, the new ordinance cannot be used to increase density in a community. It cannot be used to grant new development rights that would allow for larger, more massive buildings. And it cannot be used to permit land uses that are not already permitted by the underlying zone. What can the ordinance be used for? Based on community input and stakeholder feedback, it can be used to create new development and design standards and a better mix of land uses that will provide for a higher quality of life for area residents."

Meanwhile, for more reading about the zoning code, here are the stories that have been written to date on the code.

LA Hopes To Blow Up Postwar Zoning Codes: Architect's Newspaper

Excerpt: “This is really, really good stuff,” said Planning Commission President Bill Roschen...While some doubters wondered if the changes would precipitate too much development or allow for too little oversight, most welcomed the long-overdue changes."

Building Storm: LABJ

“More, bigger projects will be approved across the city without regard for negative impacts,” Brazeman said.....Planning Director LoGrande said developers will still have to clear the same hurdles they always have, only in a simplified process.

L.A. May Say Good-bye to EIRs and public notice: LA Weekly

"The Planning Department, in an October report, said the ordinance is needed to help expedite the cumbersome updating of Community Plans every five years. The Planning Department is woefully behind — by up to 20 years in some communities.

But Sharon Commins, vice chair of the Mar Vista Community Council, asks, "Is adding another layer of bureaucracy supposed to make updating the Community Plans more efficient? Why don't they just update the Community Plans instead?"


And earlier this week, the city also released what it's calling a "Myths and Facts" handout, a document meant to educate the public and clarify some of the misinformation that has been disseminated in the media about the Planning Department's zoning code update project, including the Community Plan Implementation Overlay ordinance. The document addresses topics like Specific Plan protections to environmental review and can be seen below.

Myths and Facts About the Planning Departments Recent Initiatives(2)