State Officials Approve LA’s Updated Housing Element

255,000 new units to be built under new plan

By Dolores Quintana 

As of June 30, the City of Los Angeles now has an updated housing element for 2022 as reported by Urbanize Los Angeles.  

An official from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) informed Planning Director Vince Bertoni via a letter of the decision.  The letter confirmed that the “Plan to House L.A.” meets the standards of the State Housing Element Law. It will now be up to local planners to implement zone changes that will make it possible for the city to construct 255,000 new units of housing in the near future to help alleviate the need for affordable housing. 

It was only a few months ago, in February, that local officials were stunned to learn that HCD had rejected the draft of the housing element covering the years from 2021 to 2029. It was HCD’s decision that the plan did not sufficiently strategize the potential for “affirmatively furthering fair housing.” This standard, which comes from Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, necessitates jurisdictions that receive federal funding to follow the anti-discriminatory policies of the Federal Government that regulate the government’s housing policies. 

The City of Los Angeles made the necessary revisions that would allow the housing element to be certified by the state of California. It updates zoning with new strategies that prioritize projects for “high opportunity areas”. It enables redevelopments on publicly owned and zoned land and it expands community benefits programs that incentivize the construction of “accessory dwelling units” and, most importantly, assistance programs for lower-income families. 

The initial rejection of Los Angeles’ housing element could have come with serious consequences for the city. It would have put the ability of the city to apply for state grants in jeopardy. Also, it would have given an October deadline to carry out zone changes that would be required of the city. Even HCD director Gustavo Velasquez was of the opinion that Los Angeles would not be able to meet that deadline due to the size of the city and the complex task. 

Lawmakers at the state level did luckily grant Los Angeles and other cities in Southern California a second chance at compliance. State lawmakers are also expected to pass legislation that would remove the October deadline which would give those cities with issues that are too large to resolve by the fall until the year 2024 to become fully compliant. 

Legislation expected to pass this week will lift the October deadline, instead giving cities until 2024 to adopt the required zone changes

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