Councilmember Huizar works with Planning Dept. on program, which safely permits previously unapproved housing in multi-family units while requiring that an equal number of affordable units be placed on the market.
Photo by LA Sentinel
The Los Angeles City Council voted (12-0) Wednesday, May 10, 2017, to approve an ordinance, which will help boost the City’s affordable housing stock at a time when the City is facing a severe housing crisis. The Unapproved Dwelling Unit (UDU) ordinance will safely permit previously unapproved housing in multi-family units while requiring, in exchange, property owners put an equal amount of affordable units at the same location on the market.
The UDU ordinance was championed by the Planning Department and Councilmember José Huizar, as the Chair of the City’s Planning Committee. Also, it was heard in the City’s Housing Committee with input from the Department of Building & Safety and the Housing & Community Investment Department.
“The UDU ordinance is a common-sense solution to increasing the City of Los Angeles’ affordable housing stock and protecting low- and moderate-income Angelenos doing their best to get by living in unapproved units at no fault of their own,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “This ordinance will directly benefit and protect those residents and their families while increasing our available affordable housing stock for others.”
Each year, as an unintended result of the City's periodic enforcement inspection of all multi-family units, between 400-500 housing units is removed from the market. By establishing procedures to legalize certain unapproved dwelling units, the UDU Ordinance will further health and safety standards in existing multifamily zones while preserving and creating affordable housing.
“Everyone should have a fundamental right to housing, including those who live in unapproved dwelling units, that’s why we, as a City, have created a path forward for legalizing those existing dwelling units which meet important life safety requirements and affordability standards,” said Vince Bertoni, General Manager of the City’s Planning Department. “Today’s vote was about ensuring housing remains safe, habitable, and affordable for all Angelenos."
The UDU ordinance does not apply to single-family zoned properties. It would therefore not encourage any future illegal construction.
To be an eligible project, the residential or mixed-use building with the unapproved dwelling unit, must be located in multiple family zones (R2 or above). The owner must be able to demonstrate that the unit existed as of the December 10, 2015, deadline and be willing to provide at least one restricted affordable unit for up to 55 years. To be approved, the building must be free from other code violations and comply with a range of other performance standards. Legalization through this process cannot result in any increase in building height or expansion of the building’s footprint.
The City Council approved a motion by former Councilmember Felipe Fuentes in December 2014 directing the Department of City Planning (DCP) to propose options to better facilitate the legalization of these unapproved dwelling units.