Examining L.A.'s Dirty Zoning Secrets

To celebrate its 50th post, Jeremy Rosenberg has handed over the reins of his "Laws That Shape L.A." column. The focus of this week's guest feature: the special overlays and site-specific designations that cover 60 percent of the city's geography.
March 27, 2013, 8am PDT | JNR
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For more than a year now, the Laws That Shaped L.A. column has been chronicling a running list of laws that a range of planners, politicians and professors say have made a significant impact on the people and places of Los Angeles -- and oftentimes, far beyond.

Covering a range of topics from taxes to transportation; the built environment to ecology; public health to public safety - many of the resulting weekly columns have been highlighted by Planetizen.

In honor of the 50th 'Laws' post, the column's creator and usual writer, Jeremy Rosenberg turned the space over this week to guest columnist James Brasuell. The resulting piece is headlined, "Exceptions Rule: The Dirty Little Secret of L.A.'s Zoning Code."

"It's no secret that the citizens of Los Angeles believe their hometown to be an exception to many rules," Brasuell writes. "The sun will always shine, there is always a way around the traffic, the Lakers will never miss the playoffs, and Hollywood is the only industry that is recession proof."

Brasuell then writes: "But very few Angelenos are aware of just how deeply exceptions are ingrained in the processes by which the city has developed. Most reasonably engaged members of the public will recognize the names of the regulatory tools employed by city planners in approving or disapproving development projects -- the Zoning Code, General Plan, and community plans are examples. The dirty little secret of land use planning and development in Los Angeles, however, is that it is the exceptions to those rules that actually get built."

Rosenberg invites Planetizen readers to contact him (via @LosJeremy or via arrivalstory at gmail dot com) if they have suggestions for a law or laws that ought to be explored in future columns.

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Published on Monday, March 25, 2013 in KCET.org
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