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Los Angeles’s streamlined approval policies leading to boom in affordable housing plans

Affordable Housing

Los Angeles’s streamlined approval policies leading to boom in affordable housing plans

A 60-day limit for the city’s planning department to approve or reject projects is boosting developer interest.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor   | March 11, 2024
Image by Ira Gorelick from Pixabay
Image by Ira Gorelick from Pixabay

Since December 2022, Los Angeles’s planning department has received plans for more than 13,770 affordable units. The number of units put in the approval pipeline in roughly one year is just below the total number of affordable units approved in Los Angeles in 2020, 2021, and 2022 combined.

The boom in affordable housing plans started after Mayor Karen Bass’s executive order fast-tracked the approval process for housing projects with all their units considered affordable. The order requires the city’s planning department to approve or reject a submitted project within 60 days.

If a project meets a basic set of criteria, it must be approved. No city council hearings, no neighborhood outreach meetings, and no environmental impact studies are required.

The new policy, along with state measures encouraging affordable housing development, has led some developers who have never produced an affordable housing project to take the plunge. The new policy enables developers to start construction in less than a year after acquiring a lot—an unheard of time frame according to a developer quoted in a CalMatters report.

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