As part of its effort to combat homelessness, the City of Los Angeles has advanced two ordinances intended to facilitate the development of transitional and permanent supportive housing through the state-manded environmental review process.
The first, known as the Interim Motel Conversion Ordinance, would "remove regulatory barriers" that currently prevent existing hotels and motels from being repurposed as transitional and supportive housing. The proposed changes to the municipal code would allow residential structures - including hotels, motels, apartment hotels, transient occupancy residential structures, and hostels - to more easily conduct interior renovations and a change of use to serve as homeless housing.
According to 2016 data from the Los Angeles County Assessor's office, the City of Los Angeles is currently home to approximately 382 motels - comprising 10,259 total guest rooms. Of these, roughly 83 percent have fewer than 50 rooms, with the average property containing 26 rooms. The ordinance would allow these buildings to be used as transitional housing - over a period of approximately 6 to 24 months - for individuals looking to eventually move into permanent supportive housing.
Any conversion to supportive or transitional housing would be contingent on a contract with a public agency to administrate that use; should the contract be terminated, the property would revert back to its previous function. The proposed ordinance would exempt these properties from the City's Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
The second item - the more-publicized Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance - is intended to facilitate the next sequence in the City's homelessness prevention strategy: permanent supportive housing.
The proposed ordinance would streamline the production of permanent supportive housing by allowing permanent supportive housing projects to exceed normal zoning rules, such as minimum lot area per dwelling unit and guest room standards. Other components of the proposed ordinance include allowing by-right construction of multifamily developments on land currently zoned for public facilities (if nearby properties are already zoned for that use) as well as exempting new developments mandatory parking minimums.
Each permanent supportive housing project would be eligible for a maximum of four concessions to the zoning code, including a decrease in setback requirements, a decreased in required open space, an increase in lot coverage limits and an increase in allowable height and floor area ratio. In some cases, a project may also be eligible for relief from transitional height requirements.
Both ordinances come on the heels of Measure H and HHH, County- and City-level sales tax measures which will provide billions of dollars in dedicated funding for homeless housing over the next decade. An analysis found that the permanent supportive housing ordinance could result in an increase of 200 units of permanent supportive housing per year, adding to the 1,000 annual units that Measure H is already expected to generate.
Reports published earlier this year estimate that there are more than 34,000 homeless Angelenos, of whom 25,000 are currently unsheltered.
The two ordinances will be considered this Thursday by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.