On Wednesday, June 2, the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee voted to proceed with expanding Fire District 1 after receiving a report produced by the Department of Building and Safety, Fire Department, and City Planning Department.  The report analyzed the potential impacts of the expansion of Fire District 1, which prohibits certain construction types in limited areas of the City of Los Angeles, such as Downtown and Hollywood.  The report concluded that the expansion of Fire District 1 would result in an increase in construction and materials cost and would likely reduce the financial feasibility of affordable housing projects and result in fewer projects throughout the City.
Continue Reading Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee Votes to Move Forward with Expanding Fire Rating Requirements for New Construction

Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council adopted a motion entitled Building a Safer Los Angeles (“Motion”) that would significantly expand the fire rating requirements for new buildings and restrict the use of light wood-frame construction throughout large parts of the City of Los Angeles.  The Motion is broadly written and, contrary to some reports in the press, it does not call for exemptions based on building size or square footage.
Continue Reading City of Los Angeles Moves to Increase Building Standards for New Construction

City of Los Angeles apartment owners recently lost their bid in Federal Court to halt the application of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s eviction moratorium[1] and rent freeze ordinance[2] (the “City Moratorium”). Senior United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson ruled on November 13, 2020 that the apartment owners had failed to show “irreparable harm” because (a) there was no immediate threat of foreclosure, and (b) the City Moratorium appeared to be “imminently reasonable” in the context of the unprecedented pandemic.[3]

Continue Reading Federal Judge Blocks Eviction Moratorium Challenge by Los Angeles Apartment Owners

At the end of June, in Hill RHF Housing Partners, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles, the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s denial of a challenge to the City of Los Angeles’s June 2017 establishment of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID) and the San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District (SPBID) (collectively, the LA BIDs), on the ground that the petitioners failed to exhaust administrative remedies – a jurisdictional prerequisite before seeking judicial review.  While the requirement for petitioners to exhaust administrative remedies is not new, Hills RHF Housing Partners, L.P. applied this well-established doctrine to a more nuanced set of laws applicable to the establishment of a business improvement district (BID).
Continue Reading Court of Appeal Rejects Challenge to LA’s Business Improvement Districts on Procedural Ground

In rejecting a California Environmental Quality Act challenge to a mitigated negative declaration for conversion of a vacant apartment building into a 24-room boutique hotel (the “Project”), the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the City of Los Angeles’s use of an existing conditions baseline when assessing housing and population impacts. The decision in Hollywoodians Encouraging Rental Opportunities (HERO) v. City of Los Angeles et al. (2019) ___ Cal.App.5th ____ indicates that the time for courts to address population displacement, and more specifically affordable housing, as a CEQA-cognizable impact is fast approaching.
Continue Reading Court of Appeal Rules HERO Cannot Save Previously Vacated Rental Units

On July 30, 2019, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an update to the “Transportation” section of the City’s California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) Threshold Guide.  City Council’s action has effectively updated the framework for evaluating traffic impact analysis to a vehicle miles traveled (“VMT”) metric in accordance with updated CEQA Guidelines section 15064.3 and Senate Bill 743.  Per the City’s Planning Department, by shifting to a VMT-centric analysis, the City will be better positioned to assess potential impacts on the City’s transportation system, as well as meet its climate change goals. Interestingly, while the City Council action is complete, there is still a bit of confusion at the City as to how the VMT metric will, in practice, be phased in for projects already in the planning process. 
Continue Reading Following Suit – City of Los Angeles Updates CEQA Guide to Include VMT Methodology Ahead of State-Imposed Deadline

Voters this week approved Measure JJJ, otherwise known as the Build Better L.A. initiative (the “Initiative”), which establishes new labor and affordable-housing requirements for developers in Los Angeles seeking discretionary approvals for residential projects.  The Initiative was promoted by the L.A. County Federation of Labor, which cited the City’s inability to meet the increasing need for affordable housing as motivation for the Initiative.
Continue Reading Voters Overwhelmingly Approve ‘Build Better LA’ Initiative Resulting in New Affordable Housing and Local Hiring Requirements For Developers