Council approves zoning rollbacks

Despite objections from neighborhood groups, the City Council gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a law that gives developers of affordable housing the power to roll back laws that dictate the height, density, the number of parking spaces and open space required in new building projects.

On a 12-2 vote, the council approved the rules, which are designed to comply with a state law that gives new incentives to companies that incorporate even a few units of subsidized housing into their projects.

Neighborhood activists contend the rules will undermine zoning that has been on the books for years for streets like Ventura, Westwood and Foothill boulevards. Councilmen Tom LaBonge and Dennis Zine opposed the plan.

Even some who favored it complained that it will strip neighborhoods and local politicians of the power to shape development projects.


Developers went to Sacramento, “they cut the deal they wanted and they want to shove it down our throats,” said Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who nonetheless backed the measure.

Council President Eric Garcetti said the measure had been reworked to protect single-family neighborhoods. And Councilman Ed Reyes said only a few development projects would take advantage of the new rules.

“It’s not like we’ll have this giant tsunami” of projects, he said.

Because Wednesday’s vote was not unanimous, it will come up for a second vote next week.


-- David Zahniser