Los Angeles is moving toward creating a path to amnesty and affordability for habitable, but unpermitted residential units.
Under a proposal backed by a council committee, the city would waive unpermitted units' compliance with certain planning, zoning, and building codes—including density and parking requirements—if landlords agree to provide affordable apartments in the same building for a minimum of 55 years.
Every year, L.A. city inspectors discover 600-700 unpermitted units—a kind of "black market economy" in a city where unaffordable rents are continuing to rise. But landlords say that as of now, it's easier to evict the tenants and remove the unit when they get caught, rather than go through the legalization process. Out of 2,500 such units cited from 2010-2015, only 201 were legalized; 80 percent were removed.
The city began considering a legalization program in 2014, and the idea has enjoyed support from a rare alliance of both landlord and tenant advocates. But the affordable-housing component has caused landlords to balk, while tenants and advocates are questioning the probability of enforcement.
Neighboring cities West Hollywood and Santa Monica have similar ordinances.
The plan has to be approved by one more committee before and going to the full council.
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