Residents Sue Over State Density Bonus Law

Upset about the effect of California State Bill 1818's override of local zoning restrictions, a Los Angeles resident has sued the city to overturn its density bonus ordinance. Others may soon follow.

"Taking the advice of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's top planning appointee, a Valley Village woman has sued the city over a new rule that allows developers to build taller, bulkier buildings if they include affordable units.

Last month, city Planning Commission President Jane Ellison Usher sent an e-mail to community groups, criticizing the recently adopted density bonus ordinance and laying out a legal strategy to challenge it.

On Thursday, homeowner Sandy Hubbard filed the first lawsuit using Usher's suggestions. A group of home and business owners is also considering a lawsuit.

Usher and community groups have complained that the density bonus ordinance allows large, bulky developments with fewer parking spaces on residential sites that have no transit or jobs nearby.

Hubbard's attorney, Noel Weiss, called the density bonus rule "political malpractice" and said he hopes to force the Planning Department to rewrite the law.

"They need to redo the ordinance in a way that is lawful and meets the needs of the community and middle class in an honest and realistic way," Weiss said.

City leaders argue that a state law enacted in 2005 requires the city to grant density bonuses. The legislation was designed to make it easier for developers to build affordable housing."

Full Story: Density bonus is targeted by lawsuit

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