Update on re:code LA, the City of Los Angeles’ Initiative to Revise the Zoning Code 


AIA|LA members met with LA City Planning Staff in January for an update on re:CODE LA, the city’s comprehensive revision to the zoning code. (Check out the city’s PowerPoint at a glance by clicking on this link.)

As presented to the AIA|LA, the current draft for Los Angeles' new code would consider and govern sites based on four different elements:

> Context (such as urban or suburban)
> Form (in other words envelope)
> Frontage (it’s relationship to streets and level of openness)
> Use (meaning such designations as industrial, residential, or mixed-use)

The AIA|LA does not yet have an official response to the draft presented by the city on January 13, but will be crafting an official response at the upcoming AIA|LA Political Outreach Committee on Tuesday, February 9 (6pm). To attend, click on this link.

This week, we asked three AIA members who attended the meeting for their perspectives. To provide input on this city document which influences design and practice, contact Will Wright at will@aialosangeles.

James C. Auld, AIA, AIA|LA Board Director:
“I appreciate the work on the new web tool that promises to gather very disparate information sets in ZIMAS and the zoning codes.

However, I have great concerns that the new graphic overlays of form-based zoning are misleading. For example, the graphics utilized to convey the envelopes of the maximum form allowed imply a sense of style and may need to take into consideration a greater diversity of forms.

Those maximum envelopes need a lot more testing. They are not yet citywide and don’t seem to cover the various, complex mixed-zoned areas of the city. And they won’t deliver the need for certainty and transparency in the regulatory process that the design and development community are asking for, nor will they necessarily legislate good design.”

Gwynne Pugh, FAIA, AIA|LA Representative to AIA/CC:
“I have some concerns about their form element and frontage element. There are two things that they really need to do: Firstly be clear about intention. The intention for each needs to be included. What’s the intent of a particular setback or height, or frontage designation. Intention can then be used as a basis for an alternate means of satisfying the code.  This is important for an innovative and creative city and community that thinks outside of conventional realm.  The second is, in terms of form, they need to provide more visual examples. They’re stating that they’re not interested in styles but by not providing enough alternatives, it is setting style.

Stephanie Reich, AIA, LEED AP – former-chair of the AIA|LA Urban Design Committee:
The re.CODE LA effort will create a clear organizational structure that will be a truly modern zoning code- no comparison to the impossible behemoth in place.  The effort to separate form and use while recognizing context will also be liberating for users and work well for neighborhoods.  In regulating mass and bulk, there are ways to provide predictability necessary for residents, community members and developers, while providing flexibility for great, innovative design. In the current draft there are certain elements developing that may not achieve this goal. It’s important for the architecture and design community to be involved as the details develop.  For Example, In West Hollywood, we developed the West Hollywood West Overlay District (and Design Guidelines) with the residents, architects and developers to address issues of mass and bulk.  We were able to achieve predictability with flexibility and provide neighborhood fit without reducing square footage.

[editor's note:
West Hollywood West Overlay District (and Design Guidelines)]

Last updated: 27-Jan-2016 01:36 PM
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