State lawmakers aim to give L.A. a reprieve on housing deadline

State legislatures aim to give the City of Los Angeles and other Southern California cities a reprieve to regroup their communities to allow for more housing construction.

Under legislation, which is expected to be passed this week as part of the annual state budget, LA would likely have until fall 2024 to allocate land for a quarter of a million new homes, as required by its long-term growth plan. The current date is this October.

If the city fails to meet that goal, it could lose access to billions of dollars in government grants for affordable housing, which would significantly slow production of new housing for low-income and homeless residents at a time of mounting hardship.

The new legislation comes amid widespread acknowledgment among state and local politicians that LA has not had enough time to fulfill its mandate.

These deadlines stem from a complicated state law that requires communities across California to plan for new growth every eight years to accommodate projected population growth and to account for other factors, such as overpopulation, that indicate a need for more development . The process, officially known as the housing element, does not require local governments to build or approve new housing, but rather mandates that they must allocate enough land to meet the state’s housing goals.

Cities in Los Angeles County and five neighboring counties had a February 2022 deadline to receive state approval for their housing designs. LA put forward a proposal aimed at reversing historical development patterns and reallocating more affluent, lower-density communities, such as those on the Westside and the San Fernando Valley, to allow for more low-income housing. Housing experts widely praised the city Efforts to identify realistic sites suitable for construction.

But state regulators initially dismissed the city’s plan, saying it did not provide adequate strategies to invest in new parks or economic development in poorer neighborhoods, among other things.

This triggered the October 2022 statutory deadline to repurpose the entire city to house more than 250,000 new homes, a task that even state housing authorities conceded was impossible to accomplish. The rezoning effort involves lengthy public relations work and environmental reviews that would require the LA City Council to approve the rezoning plan. All of this should have happened during a mayoral election – as well as city council races.

The new law, which would go into effect after approval in both houses of the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature, gives cities that receive the state’s blessing on their housing plans through October 2024 the opportunity to complete their required rezoning.

Rep. Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), who authored previous legislation detailing the strict rezoning timelines, said in a statement that the new bill is “a sensible approach to address this timing issue while ensuring that only jurisdictions Those who adopt a compliant housing element will be relieved in the form of additional rezone time.”

LA should have no problem meeting the new state approval deadline. Regulators have given tentative approval to the city’s revised efforts, and the City Council voted on the changes earlier this month.

Vince Bertoni, the city’s planning director, welcomed the extension, saying it allows city leaders to implement what he called “the boldest housing strategy in the city’s history.”

“This legislation gives the City of Los Angeles and other jurisdictions the time they need to go through a thoughtful planning process,” Bertoni said in a statement.

Other communities throughout Southern California, including Long Beach and LA County, could also benefit from the legislation and extend their rezoning deadlines if they get their housing plans approved by October. Nearly 180 cities—more than 90% of the jurisdictions in the six-county Southern California region— have not yet done so, according to the state housing agency.

Should those communities receive approval by October, they would also have until October 2024 to complete the required rezoning. If not, they would need to complete their rezoning and obtain a state-approved plan before regaining access to state affordable housing funds.

Cities in the San Diego and Sacramento areas could also extend their rezoning deadlines. But the bill would not affect those in the Bay Area who are currently finalizing their housing plans to submit to the state.

Hannah Wiley, a Times contributor, contributed to this report. State lawmakers aim to give L.A. a reprieve on housing deadline

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