The Los Angeles Superior Court’s decision in the case, Yes In My Back Yard, Sonja Trauss, and Janet Jha v. City of Los Angeles, provides important guidance to developers and local agencies on how to process housing development projects located on sites where the density permitted by the General Plan (or applicable specific or community plans) is greater than the density allowed under the zoning code.
The court held that the developers are entitled to the highest available density, even when the zoning density is less than the density allowed by the General Plan or other plans. This is true even where the applicable plans specify a range of permissible densities.
JMBM Attorneys Matthew D. Hinks, Daniel F. Freedman, and Julia Consoli-Tiensvold successfully argued the case on behalf of a multi-family housing developer. The case resulted in the court granting of a writ of mandate against the City of Los Angeles under the Housing Accountability Act.
On May 19, 2020, JMBM client Janet Jha submitted an application to the City of Los Angeles seeking to build a 67-unit, multi-family density bonus development on a site abutting Ventura Boulevard in the Woodland Hills community of the San Fernando Valley. The project site is zoned for single-family uses, but the City’s community plan designates the site for commercial and multi-family uses.
On June 8, 2020, the City rejected Jha’s application on the basis that the project includes more housing units than the site’s single-family zoning permits, and insisted that a rezoning of the site was required to approve a multi-family development. Over the next several months, the City demanded that Jha either reduce the density of the project to comply with the residential single-family zoning, or seek rezoning – even though the project density complied with the Community Plan’s “Limited Commercial” designation for the site. Continue reading