Photo by Nathan Dumlao

City’s housing plan does not go far enough to remove barriers to housing, and will likely leave the city vulnerable to the so-called “Builder’s Remedy” that allows developers to bypass local planning rules.

LOS ANGELES, CA—Abundant Housing LA and YIMBY Law just released their analysis of West Hollywood’s latest housing element, which finds that the plan does not comply with the letter or the spirit of state law. Experts identified numerous issues with the city’s housing plan, which will guide the city’s efforts to add almost four thousand new homes over the next eight years by identifying potential sites for new housing and programs to encourage new housing development, including the construction of new below-market affordable homes.

West Hollywood does not currently have a state-certified housing element. If the state does not approve the latest version of the plan, West Hollywood will remain subject to the “Builder’s Remedy,” a provision in state law that allows developers to disregard local zoning standards for any project that includes 20% affordable housing in a city without a compliant housing element. Developers in Santa Monica have filed applications to build more than 4,000 new homes using this provision.

Researchers took issue with the city’s list of sites for affordable housing, noting that one site the city identified as a location for 133 new homes is unlikely to be developed because it is currently occupied by an active grocery store, and that many other sites are similarly non-vacant. They also noted serious unaddressed constraints to building new housing, including onerous parking requirements, high fees that unfairly advantage single-family homes, burdensome affordability mandates that apply to small projects, and vague, ambiguous commitments to enacting new policies like objective zoning standards, and inadequate funding for subsidized housing.

“This plan needs additional work to comply with the letter and spirit of state law and provide a reasonable likelihood that West Hollywood will build the housing it needs over the next eight years. The state should send it back to West Hollywood with a correction list and continue to help guide them towards a more realistic plan,” said Abundant Housing policy director David Barboza.

Abundant Housing LA is a pro-housing nonprofit advocacy organization that is working to help solve Southern California’s housing crisis by supporting more housing at all levels of affordability, as well as reforms to land use and zoning codes. To maintain our independence, we do not accept financial support from housing developers or their consultants.