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Planning Dept. Trying to Smooth Way For Infill Planned Communities

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The LA City Planning Department is working on another change to the city's zoning code--this time it's an amendment to the code for Residential Planned Development districts. RPD districts are for master planned communities, but right now the zoning for them only allows for planned communities of single family houses. City Planner Tanner Blackman tells Curbed that the Planned Development amendment will provide a tool for larger developments and infill projects: "Infill in LA is very hard to do because of problems with land acquisition," adding that "the nature of available parcels and one-size-fits-all requirements hinder innovative projects." The amendment would provide "a better tool for larger projects that require a lot of little variances, and allow a better approach to the project itself."

The Planned Development amendment is another effort by LA City Planning's Code Studies section to streamline the zoning code and cut back on bureaucratic delays and redundancies that plague the zoning code (recent prominent examples of this effort include modified parking requirements and the core findings ordinance). According to Blackman, the current RPD code has language from before the state passed the California Environmental Quality Act (which requires environmental analysis of development projects) that creates redundant requirements. Section 13.04 of the Los Angeles Zoning Code, which regulates RPDs, was drafted in 1971 and has not been updated since.

Phoenix, Arizona provided a model for the drafting of an updated Planned Development ordinance--the "Celebrity City" mixed-use development is the most famous example of a contemporary PD--although many other cities in California have PD codes, including Bakersfield, Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, Oxnard, Pasadena, Riverside, Santa Clarita, Ventura, West Hollywood, and the county of Los Angeles. Planning Department staff will hold a public hearing for the amendment on September 28, and public comment will close on November 7. The Planning Department hopes the amendment will appear before the Planning Commission on December 8.
· Phoenix Council looking at plans for 'Celebrity City' []