How will the Citywide Housing Incentive Program impact Single-Family Zones?

PUBLISHED ON: October 26, 2023

As part of the implementation of the 2021-2029 Housing Element and the associated Housing Element Rezoning Program, in March of this year City Planning launched the Citywide Housing Incentive Program (CHIP). Encompassing six strategies, CHIP endeavors to maximize affordable housing production near jobs and transit in Higher Opportunity Areas while simultaneously protecting communities in neighborhoods increasingly vulnerable to displacement pressures. As the Department refines draft ordinances that will memorialize CHIP strategies in the Los Angeles Municipal Code, we have considered how these incentive proposals will apply to the City’s lower density zoning contexts including single-family zones. Though the Candidate Sites Inventory, proposed as part of the 2021-2029 Housing Element, explored how the CHIP strategies could potentially apply on single-family zones throughout the City, the draft ordinances in development no longer contemplate single-family zones as eligible for added development bonuses in certain circumstances. More information on why single-family zones were included as part of the Candidate Sites Inventory and how the Department is refining the CHIP strategies as part of the development of the CHIP draft ordinances can be found below.

In Los Angeles, 72% of land permitting residential uses is restricted to the development of single-family housing (35% of this zoned land is found in Very High Fire Hazard Severity zones and areas vulnerable to Sea Level Rise). Furthermore, in Higher Resource Areas of the City, 76% of land is zoned for the development of single-family housing. As a result of a significant proportion of zoned land in Higher Resource Areas remaining restricted to single-family uses, development of affordable housing remains concentrated in Lower Resource Areas where multifamily development is permitted by today’s existing zoning regulations. This has created clear disparities in housing access throughout the City. In particular, the lack of affordable housing constructed in Higher Resource Areas contributes to limited access for many Angelenos to place-based opportunities including jobs, transit, and high-performing schools. As a response to this condition of inequitable access to opportunity as well as state mandates to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing, CHIP aims to seek possibilities for increased affordable housing access in Higher Opportunity Areas.

Due to the sizable proportion of zoned land in Los Angeles restricted to single-family uses, sites identified in the Candidate Sites Inventory, completed in conjunction with the 2021-2029 Housing Element, did include single-family zoned sites. This was done with the intent to allow for a public dialogue among Angelenos on the types of housing opportunities they’d like to see on land historically restricted to low density residential uses. Furthermore, the Candidate Sites Inventory included single-family zoned sites in order to explore how affordable housing production could be better supported in Higher Resource Areas (that currently lack development opportunities for multifamily housing) in order to create better access to housing opportunities citywide as well as meet State Housing Element Law mandates to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing through Los Angeles’ local Rezoning Program.

Based on feedback gathered throughout the Spring and Summer through the Department’s CHIP survey and a series of Office Hours hosted in July of this year, as well as direction from the Los Angeles City Council, the Department has modified how CHIP strategies will apply to single-family zones. In particular, at this time single-family zoned land is not being considered as eligible for the Affordable Housing Overlay incentives in development unless a proposed project is constructed on land hosting a religious institution and owned by a Faith Based Organization. Additionally, single-family zoned sites are not being considered in the expansion of the Transit Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Incentive Program. Opportunities for refinement will continue to be available as the CHIP program moves toward adoption.

In the coming months, City Planning will release draft ordinances associated with specific CHIP strategies. We encourage the public to keep an eye out for these drafts and provide feedback that will ultimately inform revisions to the drafts prior to adoption. To stay up to date on the Department’s work on CHIP, make sure to sign up for email alerts here.