Are Community Plans Obsolete?

This article first appeared on and is excerpted here.

Our Community Plan is in process for a long overdue update, but will it matter?

What Is A City Plan?

The City of Los Angeles is a massive area and to help manage land use policy decisions, the city is divided into 35 community plan areas.

Each Community Plan establishes goals and policies to guide land use and development within each plan area. Plan maps identify where uses such as jobs, housing and open space will be located.

The westside of LA has four distinct plans for:

  • West Los Angeles
  • Palms – Mar Vista – Del Rey
  • Venice
  • Westchester – Playa del Rey

Community Plans are supposed to be updated every 10 years. Our Community Plan is 15 years old. The City is way behind on the whole program, and in 2018 made a commitment to update all 35 by 2024. There are currently 16 plans in process of being updated, including ours.

Last Year Something Changed

A year ago I couldn’t wait for us to dive into a lively discussion about how we want our area to look in coming decades. At the time, we were watching super dense apartment buildings going up all around us at Howard Hughes, behind Bed, Bath & Beyond and on La Tijera near the 405. It seemed like a well-developed and updated Community Plan would put an end — or at least a considered pause — to some of that.

Unfortunately, we got a new governor and a crop of emboldened state legislators who have decided that they know better how to solve our purported housing crisis than local municipalities.

To be fair, some of this was creeping in before the new governor. All the density construction we were bemoaning was being built “by right” under SB1818, passed in 2004, allowing density bonuses for multi-family construction. Basically, if some number of units were earmarked as “affordable,” the developer got to build extra density.

State laws trump local city laws. This means that when a developer chooses to build pursuant to SB1818, there is virtually nothing that the city can do, hence the term “by right.” If I hear one more ill-informed neighbor complain on NextDoor that our Councilman is letting all the development happen, I might scream.

But then came the new governor in 2018. And enter Scott Wiener, a state senator representing San Francisco. Wiener fancies himself a visionary for solving our housing crisis. Critics call him a shill for developers.

While housing activists cry for “affordable housing,” Wiener insists that luxury housing will result in more for everybody as renters move up to fill the new inventory. As if they can afford it, but that’s a whole other topic. Read more on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s