Lawsuit Uses Environmental Law to Challenge the Housing Element of L.A.'s General Plan

The city of Los Angeles in November wrapped up an update to a new Housing Element, as required by state law. A lawsuit will use a different state law to challenge the validity of the city's housing goals.

Read Time: 2 minutes

January 3, 2022, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Central Los Angeles

bonandbon / Shutterstock

David Zahniser breaks news of a lawsuit that challenges the city of Los Angeles' recently approved Housing Element of its General Plan, also known as the Plan to House L.A.

The lawsuit comes from a familiar opponent of pro-development planning and development reforms in Los Angeles—the AIDS Healthcare Foundation—wielding a familiar tool, the California Environmental Quality Act.

"The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a nonprofit group with a history of fighting L.A. planning decisions, is now looking to torpedo the council’s action, saying city officials did not properly assess the environmental impacts of that strategy," reports Zahniser.

Zahniser adds more details: "In a lawsuit filed last month, the nonprofit said the plan would allow officials to 'upzone' much of the city — allowing developers to construct taller, denser buildings — without also requiring 'a corresponding obligation to provide affordable housing.' That, in turn, would create 'more painful displacement of persons, homelessness, and gentrification in the city,' the group said."

Zahniser spoke with a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of City Planning and City Attorney Mike Feuer, who both express confidence in the plan despite the charges laid out in the lawsuit.

The Plan to House L.A. sets a goal for the city to add 57,000 new housing units every year until 2029, adding a total of 456,000 housing units over that time. To contribute to that goal, the Plan to House L.A. identified more than 243,000 properties for rezoning, according to Zahniser.

The source article includes a lot more detail about the role of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in the development politics of the second most populous city in the United States.

Monday, January 3, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

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