DTLA 2040: CCA's Push for a Flexible and Sustainable Plan

DTLA 2040: CCA's Push for a Flexible and Sustainable Plan

Published Wednesday, January 29, 2020

We want to start out the year by highlighting the most important policy issue that will define the future of Downtown -- the DTLA 2040 Community Plan. This is one of our top advocacy priorities to fulfill our mission of a thriving and vibrant Downtown for all. We began our work last fall and have been collaborating with our members and City Planning to evaluate DTLA 2040 and to push for a plan that allows for the greatest growth and flexibility. We will accelerate this work in 2020 as more details for the plan are released.

What is DTLA 2040?
DTLA 2040 is a community plan that merges and updates the Central City and Central City North Community Plans. It is the blueprint for Downtown's new developments for the next two decades. DTLA 2040 will define Downtown's character, look and feel and will impact the types of projects that can be built. It will also be the first community plan to implement the new form-based zoning code, which will impact the entire city. By 2040, Downtown is projected to add 175,000 more people. It's imperative that we have a plan that will guide the area with sustainable development to increase capacity for this growth.

Why is DTLA 2040 at the top of CCA's advocacy agenda?
Downtown will make up more than 20 percent of the city's growth over the next two decades despite being just one percent of the land. Under Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)'s most recent Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), the city needs to build more than 460,000 housing units between 2021-2029. We all know that we need more housing, which means we need to ensure all long-range plans like DTLA 2040 are considering RHNA. It is critical that DTLA 2040 provides reasonable capacity to support Los Angeles meeting this goal. DTLA 2040 is the community plan where RHNA and sustainability goals can be met.

How can DTLA 2040 improve?
We are grateful for the work and engagement of City Planning's Downtown Community Plan project team -- releasing the plan and new city-wide zoning code is an incredibly difficult task. CCA sees great potential for DTLA 2040 and would like to continue to work with the City to improve the following areas:

-Maximizing opportunities for housing: One of CCA's top advocacy priorities is to make Downtown the place for new housing at all income levels. The proposed plan does not provide enough capacity for new housing and contains several provisions that may have the unintended effect of stymying housing development.

-Creating flexibility within the plan to be adaptable for the future: DTLA 2040 will be the fundamental guide for Downtown's future over the next 20 years, and therefore must be flexible enough to adapt to changes over this time period. The plan is currently too restrictive of various land uses and building design features, maintains some outdated planning approaches and lacks clarity for approval processes. We need a flexible plan that blends different types of housing across Downtown.

-Responsibly implement the new form-based zoning code: DTLA 2040 will be the first community plan to implement the new form-based code. This is very exciting for Downtown, but it is also concerning since the new code seems to be even more complex and prescriptive than the existing one. We need to make sure the new code is flexible so that every time a new project seeks to deviate from it, there is a clear administrative process.

See our letter to City Planning for detail and examples of these concerns.

Join us in our advocacy work
We have an active working group and meet regularly with City Planning to evaluate DTLA 2040. CCA members in our working group have been providing their expertise and practical knowledge when evaluating the plan. We will continue collaborating with the City to advance our advocacy priorities before DTLA 2040 is adopted.

It is our priority to leverage the expertise of our members, policymakers and civic leaders to ensure that not just Downtown, but the city is a welcoming place to live, work and visit for generations to come. Although this plan is called DTLA 2040, the future of all Angelenos will be impacted. DTLA 2040 will strongly inform the entire city, and we need involvement of leaders in diverse industries to make this plan successful. If you are interested in being a part of our advocacy efforts, please contact Marie Rumsey and Michael Shilstone.