The Ordinance Behind the Rebirth of Downtown LA
One of the key factors, along with Staples Center (opened 1999), Disney Hall (2003) and L.A. Live. (2007), leading to the resurgence of downtown Los Angeles, is the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance (ARO), passed by the City Council in 1999.
Developed as a tool that "provides for an expedited approval process and ensures that older and historic building are not subjected to the same zoning and code requirements that apply to new construction," the success of the ARO is evidenced in the residential population growth of downtown LA between 1999 and 2008 of at least 7,300 housing units, from long-term vacant buildings alone. The total number of housing units added downtown in the thirty years prior is just 4,300, notes Rosenberg.
Key to the success of the ordinance, Donald Shoup points out, is the elimination of minimum parking requirements for the newly residential buildings. In effect, this feature allowed many historic buildings that would have been demolished for their lack of parking, to be saved and converted.