Plan to dramatically increase development would transform some L.A. neighborhoods

March 25, 2018

Senate Bill 827, written by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would loosen or eliminate restrictions on height, density, parking and design for residential properties near major rail and bus stops. The impact could be huge. A Times analysis found that about 190,000 parcels in L.A. neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes are located in the “transit rich” areas identified in SB 827.

Wiener’s bill forcefully tackles both the housing shortage and environmental concerns, said Marlon Boarnet, chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis at USC’s Price School of Public Policy. “This is a bold vision,” he said.

Wiener’s legislation will almost certainly see further changes. Yet even if it is defeated, it will have shifted the conversation around housing in the state legislature, said Lisa Ann Schweitzer, an urban planning professor at USC’s Price School of Public Policy.

Until recently, the authority that cities and counties had over local development was unquestioned. With the state’s housing shortage more acute, policymakers are questioning that dynamic, she said.

“I think the writing is pretty much on the wall … that local governments are not going to upzone voluntarily unless something radical changes,” Schweitzer said. “I think a lot of people are hoping that the state is the lever that unlocks the gridlock around zoning.”