L.A.'s Housing Element, Considered Among California's Most Ambitious, Rejected by State Regulators

The California Housing Department gave credit to Los Angeles for targeting so much growth before telling the city it needed to do more.

February 25, 2022, 8:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Central Los Angeles

bonandbon / Shutterstock

"Los Angeles must rezone to accommodate an additional quarter-million new homes by mid-October after state housing regulators rejected the city’s long-term plan for growth," report Liam Dillon and David Zahniser for the Los Angeles Times. The city released its Housing Element of the General Plan, dubbed the Plan to House L.A., in December. At the time, city officials and headlines touted the plan's commitment to accommodating up to 500,000 new homes.

Now the whole plan is at risk of failing before the state's deadline. Gustavo Velasquez, director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, sent the letter informing the city of its need to do more to create space for affordable housing and credited the city for its progress on the issue before breaking the bad news. The penalty for not completing the rezoning on time: billions of dollars in affordable housing grants. "Without the money, the production of new housing for low-income and homeless residents throughout L.A. would take a massive hit at a time when more than 41,000 people are homeless and soaring rents and the COVID-19 pandemic are making it harder for Angelenos to stay in their homes," add Dillon and Zahniser.

Los Angeles is not alone in falling short of the state's strict new standards for the state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment process. "Currently, just seven local governments in Southern California have state-approved housing plans. Another 190 are now out of compliance," according to the article. Chris Elmendorf, cited as "a UC Davis law professor who has been following the housing element process," is quoted the article describing the state's actions as "bonkers" and predicting that lumping L.A. in with cities more aggressively resisting the state's requirements (like Pasadena and Santa Monica, for two examples nearby) could backfire by delegitimize the housing department’s actions.

Thursday, February 24, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

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