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City Given 60 Days to Complete Rezoning in Court Judgment

The Los Angeles Superior Court this week made its final judgment in the lawsuit against La Cañada Flintridge by the nonprofit Californians for Homeownership, which will give a timeline for the city to decide on a rezoning plan for its housing element process.
The judgment on Tuesday requires the city to complete the adoption of its rezoning ordinance within 60 days as of Sept. 5, and to file a notice with the court confirming that rezoning is done within 90 days of the date.
“The lawsuit is now complete,” Matthew Gelfand, counsel for Californians for Homeownership, told the Outlook Valley Sun. “However, there may be later hearings to determine whether the city has satisfied its obligations.”
Gelfand said he is pleased overall with the result of the hearing. The city of LCF said during the hearing it plans to appeal the case, he added.
“We are pleased that we have been able to move this case all the way from filing the petition to obtaining a judgment within six months, and we intend to vigorously defend the court’s decision during the expected appeal,” said Gelfand.
City Attorney Adrian Guerra confirmed that the city is going to appeal the court’s requirement to rezone.
“The judgment entered today was as the city expected,” Guerra told the Outlook Valley Sun. “As we have consistently stated to the court, the city has complied with state law and will comply with its obligation to rezone as provided in state law. The City Council is scheduled to consider adoption of the rezoning ordinance in September and complete this process by mid-October, which is well in advance of the due date the court set today.”
While the city will comply with the judgment, Guerra added that, “The city intends to appeal a court ruling underlying the judgment that rezoning was required concurrently with the adoption of the housing element, a ruling that is inconsistent with state law.”
He added that another hearing will likely be scheduled when the city appeals in the Los Angeles Superior Court Appellate and Appeals Division.


The planning committee has approved and made recommendations on changes to the following amendments regarding an updated zoning plan in its Aug. 30 special meeting that will soon be brought to the City Council for final approval.
Regarding the General Plan Amendment, Susan Koleda, LCF’s director of community development, said: “Because we have our adopted housing element, we now need to amend the land-use element to match what we included in the housing element.”
Changes to the General Plan will include updating land use maps, updating densities and floor area ratio for commercial and mixed use, update uses allowed in Institutional Land Use designation (which is implemented by the Public/Semi-Public zone) to allow low-income housing for religious institutions only, and other minor revisions to ensure consistency.
Changes to the city zone code might include updating the city zoning map, creating a new housing element implementation overlay zone for specific properties, creating new development standards for new multifamily residents and mixed-use development close to the freeway, updating zoning code to allow low-income housing as required by state law, adding by-right approval for 20% lower-income housing projects, and revising standards for lot consolidation and lot mergers.
Lastly, changes will be reviewed for the Downtown Village Specific Plan Amendment. Changes could include a new land-use district to be established allowing multifamily residential use on properties owned by religious facilities, multifamily residential use with a maximum density of 15 dwelling units per acre, and increase the density on parcels identified on the sites inventory.
“We didn’t rezone whole areas,” said Koleda. “We just identified those sites that needed to be included in these new zones.”
These changes are necessary because the California Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD, can’t find the city’s housing element in compliance until rezoning is adopted, according to Koleda.
“Only changes necessary to the general plan, the zoning code and downtown village specific plan that are necessary to implement the housing element, [are] on the table and are presented to you,” Koleda told the planning committee.
After the city has a certified housing element and the zoning is implemented, Koleda said that can come back to the committee with further development or design standards that are objective and work with the community to sort them out, if needed.
“But at the moment, this was the bare minimum we needed to get this adopted,” said Koleda.

First published in the September 7 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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