About the Project

A copy of the original 1946 Zoning Code next to the 1978 and 2013 versions.

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning is embarking on one of the City’s largest planning initiatives to date: re:code LA, a comprehensive revision of LA’s outdated zoning code. First adopted in 1946, the current Code has grown from a simple, 84-page pamphlet to an unwieldy, 600+ page book that inadequately realizes a 21st Century vision of a better Los Angeles for all residents.

Over the next five years, we will create a:

  • Dynamic Web-Based Zoning Code — Clear and predictable Code that better meets the City’s current and future needs, and that also provides an interactive on-line experience
  • Guide to Zoning — Quick reference, easy-to-read guide to the new Code’s land use and development regulations
  • Unified Downtown Development Code — New zoning tools customized for the heart of Los Angeles, Downtown

The City of Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles encompasses 469 square miles with 3.8 million people, making it the second largest city in the United States. It includes a wide variety of neighborhood and landscape types, from dense urban areas in Downtown to suburban single family neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley. This creates the need for rules and regulations that are flexible enough to accommodate the diverse the City’s diverse physical landscape and uses.

Why re:code LA?

The use of land and how it is developed is primarily regulated by the City’s 1946 Zoning Code and subsequent amendments, conditions, and overlays. Today, the Code contains over 70 types of time-consuming discretionary actions, with hundreds of individual authorities. New actions and overlays are added to this list every year, which creates more cases and a greater need for additional staff. Over the last 65 years the constant additions to the 1946 Zoning Code has led to a cumbersome, unclear, and unnecessarily complicated document, which no longer promotes the best practices in planning.

As a result, the Code is not living up to the needs of the City. It has become a document that is no longer fiscally effective or sustainable for property owners trying to build, neighbors trying to figure out what can be built, or the city staff required to review development proposals. This has made necessary a wholesale revision of the Zoning Code.

Whereas it started as a 67 page pamphlet, the Zoning code has become a 700 page volume of cumbersome, convoluted, and sometimes inconsistent regulations that poorly reflects the policies that the people of Los Angeles have created in their General Plan.

The Zoning Code does not live up to the needs of the Los Angeles of today. Nor is it effective at helping Angelenos create the future that they want for their city. Los Angeles needs a new zoning code and re:code LA is meant to get us there.

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