Opinion: L.A. Needs to End Land Use Policies That Block Housing Construction

Mark Vallianatos argues Los Angeles is still contending with the legacy 1920 era land use restrictions built on racist, exclusionary zoning policies, the remnants of which aren't worth saving.
April 19, 2018, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Politicians fighting for exclusionary zoning that only allows single family homes should consider where these zoning laws come from, Mark Vallianatos argues in the LA Times.

"State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) recently introduced a bill that would help change that. SB 827 would relax some local density and height restrictions and parking requirements on land near busy transit stops,"Mark Vallianatos, writes for the Los Angeles Times. This could make a big difference in a city where almost half of the land is zoned exclusively for single family housing.

L.A.'s Mayor and City Council came out against the measure citing a change in the city's character, Mayor Garcetti suggested that neighborhoods with 2-3 flats and apartment buildings wouldn't "look right" in LA. Vallianatos finds that line of reasoning unconvincing. Citing the charm of Northeast L.A. with "the mix of duplexes, bungalow courts, single-family houses, dingbat apartments and townhome-style small-lot subdivisions."

Worse, the exclusionary zoning laws put in place in LA in 1921 were part of a movement started in the south to codify segregation. When the courts made it illegal to ban races and religious groups from neighborhoods, the movement used single-family housing zoning rules as an end-around to circumvent those rules. These land use rules have constrained housing in the city ever since, and Vallianatos argues, "In a region with a housing shortage and homelessness crisis, all homes are good homes."

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Published on Monday, April 2, 2018 in Los Angeles Times
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