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.

The report was prepared at the request of the  City Council, pursuant to the motion entitled Building a Safer Los Angeles (“Motion”).  The Motion, adopted on April 6, 2021, directs City staff to prepare an ordinance that expands the requirements for Fire District 1 to all areas:

  • With high population density of at least 5,000 or more residents per square mile; and
  • Subject to the California’s Very High Fire Severity Zone and the City’s High Wind Velocity Zone.

The Motion also called for: (1) mandating a Fire Protection Plan for all new and significantly altered projects over 150,000 square feet and/or 100,000 square feet if over 30 feet in height; and (2) recommendations to ensure skilled workers are employed for new multi-family and commercial structures within Fire District 1.

Due to these requirements, the ordinance proposed pursuant to the Motion, if adopted, would result in significant restrictions on the use of light wood-frame construction throughout large parts of the City.  While certain labor, concrete construction, and building safety advocates support such an ordinance, many businesses  and affordable housing groups oppose it, arguing it would increase housing construction costs and result in fewer affordable housing projects.

The proposed expansion of Fire District 1 will now proceed to the City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Management Committee for its review at a date yet to be determined.

*Elijah Griffen is a summer associate with Sheppard Mullin