Since the program's adoption in September 2017, the Transit Oriented Communities guidelines have become a well-utilized avenue for entitling new housing in the City of Los Angeles, according to a report published by the Department of City Planning.
The TOC incentives, approved by voters in 2016 as a little-known component of Measure JJJ, has accounted for 19 percent of all housing units filing for entitlements over the last 9 months, according to the Planning Department. Since the enaction of the guidelines through the end of June 2018, they have accounted for 112 distinct development projects totaling 5,571 total housing units -including 1,145 units of subsidized affordable housing.
The streamlined processing offered by the TOC guidelines has offered an average three-month average timeline for discretionary entitlements cases, as opposed to an average of seven months for projects using density bonus incentives. In some cases, projects that had previously sought entitlements through the older density bonus process have switched to the TOC guidelines, which offer more generous incentives in addition to the shorter pathway to approval.
A project at 12300 Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles was initially conceived as a five-story, 51-unit development with a density bonus. But after the adoption of the TOC guidelines, developer Pico 12300, LLC resubmitted the project as a larger six-story building featuring 65 apartments - including 10 very-low-income units.
Another project, located at 1947 Sawtelle Boulevard, was already in the midst of construction when its developer resubmitted the project through the TOC guidelines. This allowed for what was originally a four-story, 73-unit development to add 15 more apartments - in exchange for setting aside eight for extremely-low-income households.
The Planning Department's report also examines new case filings for multifamily residential projects under the parameters imposed by Measure JJJ - specifically the requirement that projects with 10 or more units that necessitate a general plan amendment or zone change provide affordable housing or pay an in-lieu fee.
Entitlement applications showed a pronounced spike in 2016, as developers of projects that would be affected by Measure JJJ aimed to file their proposals prior to the November election. Consequently, the Planning Department saw a 78 percent decrease in the number of housing units requiring general plan amendments and zone changes during 2017 compared to the previous year. This was followed in the second quarter of 2018 by a smaller spike in entitlement applications, as developers once again sought to file their projects prior to the enaction of the City of Los Angeles' new Linkage Fee ordinance.
From December 2016 through June 2018, the Planning Department reports that 6,485 housing units subject to Measure JJJ have been initiated - including 1,677 restricted affordable units.
This report comes in the wake of new data from CoStar, which attributes a precipitous drop in the number of new housing starts in Downtown Los Angeles to the effects of Measure JJJ. During the one-year period between June 2017 and June 2018, CoStar estimates that approximately 500 housing units broke ground, compared to an average of 2,000 units since 2013.
- Here are the Transit Oriented Communities Guidelines (Urbanize LA)