Chapter 3
Land Use

This section summarizes key land use issues and presents the goals, objectives, policies, and programs that capitalize on the City's opportunities. The policies establish new categories of land use whose locations are generally depicted on a diagram (Figures 3-1 to 3-4, the Long-Range Land Use Diagram) that replaces the adopted citywide Centers Concept. The new categories -- Neighborhood District, Community Center, Regional Center, Downtown Center, and Mixed-Use Boulevard -- are broadly described by ranges of intensity/density, heights, and lists of typical uses. The definitions reflect a range of land use possibilities found in the City's already diverse urban, suburban, and rural land use patterns. Their generalized locations reflect a conceptual relationship between land use and transportation. The diagram is intended to represent an initial distribution of uses and growth based on the factors discussed below. While it is more detailed than the Centers Concept, the diagram does not connote land use entitlements or affect existing zoning for properties in the City of Los Angeles. It, and the new categories, are intended to serve as the guideline for the subsequent amendment of the City's community plans where the precise designation and alignment of uses will be determined.

Framework Element policies reflect and continue the land use provisions of the Specific Plans that have been adopted for various areas of the City. The Framework Element does not supersede adopted Specific Plans.

The Land Use policy encourages the retention of the City's stable residential neighborhoods and proposes incentives to encourage whatever growth that occurs to locate in neighborhood districts, commercial and mixed-use centers, along boulevards, industrial districts, and in proximity to transportation corridors and transit stations. Land use standards and densities vary by location to reflect the local conditions and diversity and range from districts oriented to the neighborhood, the community, the region, and, at the highest level, the national and international markets.

It is the intent of the Land Use policy to encourage a re-direction of the City's growth in a manner such that the significant impacts that would result from the continued implementation of adopted community plans and zoning can be reduced or avoided. This will provide for the protection of the City's important neighborhoods and districts, reduce vehicular trips and air emissions, and encourage economic opportunities, affordable housing, and an improved quality of life.

Improvement of development is addressed through quality standards for multi-family residential neighborhoods and the establishment of pedestrian-oriented districts.

To facilitate growth in those areas in which it is desired, the Land Use Policies provide for the (1) establishment of a process to expedite the review and approval of development applications that are consistent with the Framework Element and community plans, (2) the implementation of infrastructure and public service investment strategies, and (3) a program to monitor growth and infrastructure and public service capacity and report their status annually to the City Council.

Throughout the Land Use Chapter the terms "conservation" and "targeted growth" are used extensively. The following defines their applications:

"Conservation areas" consist of all areas outside of the designated districts, centers, and mixed-use boulevards. Within conservation areas the prevailing uses and densities will be maintained. New development should be comparable in type and scale with existing development. In areas designated by the community plans for single-family dwellings, new development would consist of the infill of vacant lots or replacement of existing units with other single-family houses in accordance with the densities defined in the community plans. In areas designated by the Framework Element and community plans for multi-family housing, vacant lots may be developed and existing units may be replaced in accordance with the densities defined by the community plans. In areas, designated for commercial uses, development may occur in conformance with the land use designations of the community plans. In all areas, remodels and expansion of existing structures are permitted.

"Targeted growth areas" refer to those districts, centers, and boulevards where new development is encouraged and within which incentives are provided by the policies of the Framework Element. These are located in proximity to major rail and bus transit corridors and stations; in centers that serve as identifiable business, service, and social places for the neighborhood, community, and region; as reuse of the City's boulevards; and as reuse of the City's industrial districts to facilitate the development of new jobs-generating uses. Generally, the density and scale of development on any parcel would significantly increase above existing levels. For example, areas of one- to two-story buildings might be developed with three- or four-story buildings or higher. In these areas, the policies of the Framework Element can assist in effectively shaping the form and character of growth, improving the quality of development, mobility, and reducing air pollution to enhance the quality of life for the City's residents. These growth areas are identified in areas designated by the community plans for commercial and industrial uses at the time of Framework Element adoption.

The following summarizes the significant land use characteristics and conditions in the City of Los Angeles, as presented in the Technical Background Report and modified by impact analyses of the City's existing community plans. These issues constitute the baseline of opportunities and problems which are addressed by the goals, objectives, policies, and programs defined in the subsequent section of this Chapter.

1. The diversity of the City's population affords the opportunity to further create distinct neighborhoods and communities that accommodate a range of uses and exhibit physical characteristics reflective of the cultures that define them. A successful composition of distinct multi-cultural neighborhoods and places can enhance the City's image and quality of life.
2. The City's setting of large-scale open spaces, including the Santa Monica, San Gabriel, and Santa Susana Mountains, Baldwin Hills, Griffith Park, the Sepulveda Dam basin, the Los Angeles River and the coastline, represent a significant asset of natural diversity that has attracted and will continue to attract people to move to the City.
3. The City's "stable" single- and multi-family residential neighborhoods represent significant assets whose character and qualities merit protection. Historically, the "strong" image exhibited by the City's single-family residential neighborhoods has distinguished Los Angeles from other metropolitan areas.
4. The City contains many commercial and industrial districts whose qualities and character represent important symbolic, functional, and economic assets that should be preserved and enhanced. Many of these viable districts, such as Boyle Heights, Highland Park, Larchmont, Fairfax, Westwood Village, Leimert Park, Melrose, and Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana, are directly related to and support surrounding residential neighborhoods. Other districts, such as Crenshaw, Warner Center and Century City, attract a regional customer base, while still others, such as Little Tokyo, Westlake, and Koreatown, are intimately linked to both their surrounding neighborhoods, the larger region, and the world.
5. The City contains a diversity of industrial districts that provide jobs to the City's residents and to people living in the surrounding region. While industry has been significantly impacted by recession in the early 1990's, the City contains a viable industrial base. There are a number of sectors and areas that have been economically stable and will continue to play an important role in sustaining the City's fiscal viability. These include the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport, entertainment industry, and clusters abutting downtown and the San Fernando Valley.
6. The City's concentration of uses that are oriented to the greater Southern California region (and State) are assets that provide the opportunity and stimulus for the development of similar and supporting uses. Examples include the cluster of government and civic buildings and corporate offices in downtown, the Convention Center, and sports facilities (Coliseum and Dodger Stadium).

Historic Impacts of Growth
1. The City's and region's growth has resulted in significant traffic congestion and air pollution.
2. Development intensification in some areas of the City has adversely impacted the integrity and character of existing residential neighborhoods and community-oriented commercial districts.
3. In some neighborhoods, apartments have replaced single-family homes, which has resulted in resident relocation and loss of ownership units. At the same time, the City's total number of ownership units has increased due to the construction of condominiums and townhomes.
4. The physical design of many higher-density apartments and condominiums has often been insensitive to the character of the neighborhoods in which they are located, has been of poor quality, and has offered few amenities, which frequently has contributed to public opposition to the further development of such units.
5. In some areas, high-density development directly abuts low-density, single-family residential neighborhoods resulting in visual and physical incompatibilities and conflicts.
6. The construction of light rail facilities has resulted in some conflicts with adjacent land uses. These conflicts have included short-term construction impacts, vehicular and pedestrian crossing of rail lines, noise, and vibration.

Future Growth Impacts
1. If population growth resulted in all lands in the City being developed to the maximum densities currently permitted, there would be severe impacts on transportation and utility infrastructure, public services, economic stability, and the quality of life for the City's residents. Estimated average speeds on freeways and arterials would decline to levels below 20 miles per hour and air emissions and pollution would be substantially increased. Development within the City's residential neighborhoods and commercial districts would be of much greater scale and mass, significantly changing their character.
2. The growth reflected in this Element is based on projections from the Southern California Association of Governments. Capacities and policies contained in the Element are intended to accommodate this growth, should it occur. However, projections of population do not always occur in quantities or at locations as expected.
3. Intensification of housing is opposed in many neighborhoods, because it is associated with increased traffic congestion, crime, impacts on schools and parks, and residential overcrowding.
4. The recycling and intensification of develop ment that are necessitated to accommodate future growth provide an opportunity to improve the character and quality of development. Development in proximity to transit stations, along boulevards, and in other key centers affords the opportunity to intermix uses, establish pedestrian areas, improve open space amenities, design structures which are responsive to their setting, and incorporate other elements that create both a "sense of place" and a "sense of community."
5. Changes in the City's demographic charac teristics afford the opportunity for the consideration of forms and density of land use development which traditionally have not occurred in Los Angeles. Some cultures have favored forms of housing that support multiple generations of families, such as units clustered around shared communal facilities and kitchens. "Co-housing" is one example which involves individually owned self-sufficient dwellings with some feature owned in common, (e.g. laundry, play areas, garden, community rooms, etc.). Open air markets are typical of many cultures. There is an opportunity to reflect the diversity of cultures in the patterns and forms of new development.
6. Construction of rail and other fixed-route transit facilities afford the opportunity to develop new uses and structures and public open spaces at their stations and along their routes. Jointly, the City of Los Angeles and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) have adopted a policy to focus growth in the vicinity of transit stations. An emphasis has been placed on the development of mixed-use projects (commercial and residential) as focal points for their surrounding neighborhood while affording mobility to and from other parts of the City and region.

Development Capacity
1. The City of Los Angeles has insufficient vacant properties to accommodate forecast population increases. Consequently, the City's growth will require the reuse and intensification of existing developed properties. Such growth could, unless carefully planned, significantly alter the character of many neighborhoods and districts in an undesirable manner.
2. While there is sufficient land zoned to accommodate the housing needs of forecast population growth, development to the permitted densities will necessitate the replacement of many existing affordable units and impact the character of established neighborhoods. Consequently, it may be appropriate to consider the reuse of underutilized and economically obsolete commercial properties as alternatives.
3. The City's commercially-zoned corridors, districts, and centers have the capacity to accommodate growth that considerably exceeds economic market demands well into the 21st Century. While densities at a 1.5:1 floor area ratio (FAR) are generally permitted, existing development averages approximately 0.58:1 and market demand forecasts indicate increase of only 10 to 15 percent.
4. Existing zoning of the City's industrial lands, theoretically, could accommodate substantial new industrial development and jobs. Currently, these areas are developed at an average FAR of 0.27:1 as compared with a permitted FAR of 1.5:1. This, however, does not represent "real" capacity for new development, as almost all industrial lands are developed and the functions of industrial buildings, typically, limit their height to no more than one-story (as reflected in the existing FAR). Many industrial buildings, however, are vacant and provide inventory that can be re-used or replaced in the future.

Existing Pattern and Character of Development
1. The distribution and low-density of single- family units coupled with their physical separation from commercial services, jobs, recreation, and entertainment necessitates the use of the automobile. This, in turn, leads to numerous single-purpose vehicle trips, long distances traveled, traffic congestion, and air pollution.
2. Existing residential densities inhibit the development of an effective public transportation system in many areas of the City.
3. Existing multi-family residential neighbor hoods (approximately 53 percent of all housing units) exhibit a variety of characteristics and conditions. Some have been developed at or near the maximum densities permitted and generally convey a homogeneous character. Some are developed with multi-family dwellings at lesser than permitted densities and have capacity for growth. Others exhibit a wide range of housing types and densities. Residents from many neighborhoods have expressed their concern about further neighborhood intensification and their desire to retain existing units at present densities.
4. The narrow depth of parcels along many of the City's commercial corridors results in development which conflicts with adjacent residential neighborhoods.
5. There is a significant lack of open space and parks in the City to support the needs of the population and there is a severe inequity of their distribution throughout the City. The transmission and utility corridors, flood control improvements (including the Los Angeles River), railroad corridors, and other linear elements which cross the City provide the opportunity for the introduction of open space improvements.
6. The future of the City's industrial lands is uncertain due to the regional recession, national economic restructuring, and relocation of businesses to other cities and states. Due to the loss of industrial activity, the appropriate use of some of these properties is in question and has led some to propose their re-use for non-industrial purposes. Of concern is the amount of industrial land that should be allowed to convert to other uses, e.g., marginal use areas located adjacent to stable residential neighborhoods of small and shallow lots with limited access to major transportation routes.
7. Many of the industrially-zoned properties encompass large areas in the San Fernando Valley, Downtown, and Port area, affording opportunities to focus City efforts to preserve industrial planned lands for such use as the economy recovers.

Regional Patterns of Land Use and Development
1. The City of Los Angeles experiences a net in-migration of vehicular trips in the morning and a net out-migration in the evening, as it provides jobs for people living in outlying "jobs poor" communities. This pattern has remained rather constant despite the weak economy and the regional loss of employment opportunities. As a result, regional traffic congestion and air quality have not improved to desired levels. Although long-term traffic and air quality improvements are possible, they will require, among other factors, an improved jobs/housing balance in the peripheral communities as well as a stable regional economy.
2. New technologies may afford the opportu nity to reduce vehicular miles traveled by enabling employees to work at home and conduct many business activities electronically.

Non Home-to-Work Destinations
1. Non home-to-work trips now result in more congestion and air pollution than home-to-work trips. Land uses that primarily generate non home-to-work trips (shopping centers, entertainment complexes, sporting venues, recreational and cultural facilities) typically serve a retail function and draw customers from both the City and the surrounding region, thereby contributing to traffic congestion and air pollution.
2. The retail function of many of the above mentioned destinations inhibits effective use of public transportation because customers often make purchases and need to transport packages home. At the same time, these trips occur at the convenience of the traveler, the timing of which frequently does not coincide with a fixed transit schedule.

Existing Development Policy The Centers Concept
The "Centers Concept" was adopted in 1974 as the guide for growth in the City. It focuses growth in a number of Centers that are to be interconnected with public transit and conserves existing residential neighborhoods.
1. The "Centers" Concept differentiates these areas of growth strictly by density and does not reflect the diversity of their functional roles, land uses, physical form, character, and users. Consequently, this definition provides ineffective guidance for growth and development.
2. Intensification of a number of the desig nated Centers, such as Boyle Heights and Highland Park, which are predominantly neighborhood-oriented one- and two-story areas, to their maximum permitted densities would adversely impact their present character.
3. The application of the existing "Center" designation is inconsistent and does not reflect the City's pattern or character of development. As such, many areas outside of the designated Centers exhibit the same characteristics that are supposed to define the designated Centers. For example, Brentwood and Westwood represent regional-serving retail and office commercial centers similar to the designated Sherman Oaks and Miracle Mile Center. Similarly, the Westside Pavilion, Beverly Center, and Northridge Mall are comparable to the designated Panorama City and Crenshaw Centers.
4. Some major developments, such as the Beverly Center and the Westside Pavilion, have occurred outside of the areas that were targeted for growth by the Centers Concept, the City's official land use policy. This has resulted in a degree of uncertainty for residents, property owners, and the providers of public infrastructure and services.
5. The diverse character of the City's land uses affords the opportunity to create a new classification of Centers, Boulevards, and Neighborhoods that clearly differentiates their functional role, uses, density, and physical form and character. Such differentiation can enhance the City as a collection of distinct places, which enhance both community identity and residents' quality of life.

Community Plans
Community plans have been adopted as the City's Land Use Element to guide growth and development in each of its 35 community areas.
1. The diverse character of the City's land uses affords the opportunity to create a new classification of Centers, Boulevards, and Neighborhoods that clearly differentiates their functional role, uses, density, and physical form and character. Such differentiation can enhance the City as a collection of distinct places, which enhance both community identity and residents' quality of life.
2. A number of community plans are being amended, including the communities of Northeast, Sylmar and West Adams. There was extensive public input and consensus-building for each area.
3. Though not a community plan, the recently completed Downtown Strategic Plan serves as an updated guide for new development in the Central City area.

Specific Plans
The City has adopted a number of specific plans that set detailed development regulations in their local areas. Some of these impose limits on the amount of development that can be accommodated to reflect transportation constraints and intended community character and some impose design guidelines to improve the quality of physical development. Among them are Specific Plans for Ventura Boulevard, Warner Center, Central City West, Park Mile, Porter Ranch, Sherman Oaks-Reseda, Century City, San Vicente Scenic Corridor, Mt. Washington, Granada Hills, Mulholland Scenic Corridor, Pacific Palisades Village, Westwood Village etc. In many respects, these plans advance the fundamental goals of the Framework Element for focusing growth, increasing mobility, reducing air pollution, and establishing a higher quality built environment for the City's residents.

Adoption of the Framework Element does not supersede nor alter adopted specific plans. Adopted specific plans are consistent with the General Plan Framework Element.

Land Use/Transportation Policy
As a joint effort of the City of Los Angeles and Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a policy has been adopted to foster the development of higher-density mixed-use projects within one-quarter mile of rail and major bus transit facilities. Adherence to this policy will significantly influence the form and character of development in the City.

As additional rail transit routes are confirmed and funded (or unfunded), policy enables the revision of the plans to establish appropriate uses and densities in proximity to these facilities, in accordance with the Land Use/Transportation Policy.

Redevelopment Plans
Redevelopment plans have been adopted by the Community Redevelopment Agency to physically and economically revitalize a number of areas throughout the City. Some plans will affect the type and pattern of development. Among the plans are those for Hollywood, Downtown, Beacon Street (San Pedro), Hoover Street, Watts, Crenshaw, and Little Tokyo.

Approved Development Projects
A number of major development projects have been approved that will influence the pattern of development and character of the City. Among these are Playa Vista, Porter Ranch, Howard Hughes Center, and Union Station.

The following presents the goals, objectives, and policies for land use in the City of Los Angeles. For the purpose of the Los Angeles City General Plan, a goal is a direction setter; an ideal future condition related to public health, safety or general welfare toward which planning implementation is measured. An objective is a specific end that is an achievable intermediate step toward achieving a goal. A policy is a statement that guides decision making, based on the plan's goals and objectives. Programs that implement these policies are found in the last chapter of this document. Programs are referenced after each policy in this document.




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