Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced last week that the city has defended its plan to permit 6,000 new mixed use housing units along the Expo Line transit corridor in the city of L.A.
A neighborhood group called Fix the City began fighting the new housing in October 2018, with a legal case dragging on through multiple amended petitions in an effort to block the building project, which encompasses the Exposition Boulevard corridor in Los Angeles, between Santa Monica and Culver City.
The plan, called the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan, allows for dozens of new buildings to be constructed, including some along Olympic Boulevard between Centinela and Barrington just outside Santa Monica city limits that are zoned to stand 10 to 12 stories tall.
A Dec. 17 Superior Court ruling rejected a challenge to the new plan that was brought by Fix the City, which calls itself “a pro-public safety, pro-livability, pro-‘rules-matter’ group,” according to its website. The website states the organization “was selected by an 11-2 vote by the Board of Tract 7260 in May 2012 to pursue public safety and land use issues”; Tract 7260 is now the Century Glen HOA, a homeowners association based in West LA.
“We urgently need more housing and we should put it close to public transit to reduce traffic congestion. This victory is an essential step in dramatically reimagining how Angelenos live, work, shop and play,” Feuer said in a statement released by his office. The statement added: “L.A.’s future is closely tied to creating more transit-oriented development as we tackle our housing crisis and L.A.’s crushing traffic congestion.”
The statement also detailed that Feuer, in his previous role as an assemblymember, “authored the law enabling Measure R, infusing more than $30 billion in public transit improvements in L.A. County, to go to the ballot.”
The neighborhood plan includes density bonus incentives to build affordable units for “extremely low” to “low” income households to increase FAR, or floor-area ratio, in residential developments. It also specifies the affordable units must be of comparable size and offer the same amenities as market-rate units, and must be completed at the same time as the standard units.
Fix the City expressed particular concern about police and fire response times in the neighborhoods with increased housing density, but Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel’s final ruling stated that “The Expo Plan EIR [Environmental Impact Report] examined the nature of response times and found no significant impact, including because of a requirement of non-emergency vehicles to yield to emergency vehicles, traffic light preemption system and the emergency services would respond appropriately to changing circumstances.”
As for overall traffic impact, Fix the City expressed concern that the new housing units would create an increase in vehicular traffic in the area; however, the city argued that the plan, which in addition to mixed use commercial/residential developments includes a “new industry” zone with light manufacturing, assembly, retail and/or restaurants, would help cut back on total miles driven by residents in the area. Strobel agreed.
The neighborhood plan also incentivizes transit use for residential units, mandating that developers must offer free TAP cards — transit passes — to residents who choose not to rent or buy parking spaces with their units.