The New Zoning Code: Coming Soon to a Community Plan Near You

on December 01, 2017

In March 2017, re:code LA scored an early victory with the adoption of new R1 Variation Zones—new zoning tools for residential neighborhoods in the current Zoning Code that will eventually be converted to the format of the new Zoning Code. Several neighborhoods received the benefits of these new, more responsive tools. The re:code LA team is working on many more tools to respond to the needs of single-family neighborhoods, and we're also excited about the new planning tools for a wide variety of neighborhood types.

The R1 Variation Zones approved in March 2017 offer hillside communities, among other residential neighborhoods, more responsive zoning tools. The R1 Variation Zones also provide a "soft roll out" for the concepts of the re:code LA project. (Image: Google Earth)

The R1 Variation Zones approved in March 2017 offer hillside communities, among other residential neighborhoods, more responsive zoning tools. The R1 Variation Zones also provide a "soft roll out" for the concepts of the re:code LA project. (Image: Google Earth)

The new Zoning Code is making its first public appearances in Community Plans and other planning efforts around the City of Los Angeles, displaying the larger potential of the new Code. The draft concept of the Boyle Heights Community Plan, for instance, was the first Community Plan in the City to present a vision for the community while using the tools provided by the new Zoning Code. The Downtown Community Plans (DTLA 2040) are also underway, working with the new Zoning Code. The City's recently launched Southwest Valley Community Plans, and the Orange Line and Purple Line Extension Transit Neighborhood Plans. The Venice Local Coastal Program will make use of the new Zoning Code as well.

The Orange Line Extension Transit Neighborhood Plan will work with re:code LA to make the most of the extended Orange Line bus rapid transit line in the San Fernando Valley. (Image by METRO96 via Wikimedia Commons)

The Orange Line Extension Transit Neighborhood Plan will work with re:code LA to make the most of the extended Orange Line bus rapid transit line in the San Fernando Valley. (Image by METRO96 via Wikimedia Commons)

These parallel planning projects offer the first opportunities for planners and community members to make full use of the tools provided by the new Zoning Code, but there will be many more opportunities in the next few years. Each new community planning effort offers an opportunity to implement the new Zoning Code. As the City adopts new Community Plans, the City's zoning map will transform into the language of the new Zoning Code.

To prepare for future community planning processes, the re:code LA team is working behind the scenes on the citywide Zoning Code—the complete collection of form districts, use districts, frontages, and densities that community members and planners will explore and apply when drafting new Community Plans. In some cases, the community and planners working together with the re:code LA team might also create new zoning designations that fit the needs of a specific neighborhood.

The re:code LA project will not change any zoning designations, that work will only be accomplished when the City Council officially adopts new Community Plans or other planning projects. The citywide Zoning Code acts like a library or a toolbox—ready for use when the time is right.

In the meantime, there are a few administrative issues to resolve to help clear the way for the new Zoning Code. In the next few months, the City Council is expected to create Chapter 1A in the Municipal Code and establish new City Planning administration rules (how the Department of City Planning processes applications and requests) as part of the Processes and Procedures Ordinance. Approved Community Plans will implement the new Zoning Code, filling in Chapter 1A with the new Zoning Code with new options as needed.

Community Plans around the city will be launching with greater frequency than in previous decades, providing more frequent opportunities to implement the new Zoning Code. The re:code LA team is busy preparing for this citywide effort, and is ready to ensure that everyone with a stake in the future of the city can use the new Zoning Code to the benefit of their community.