On Oct. 31, the Department of City Planning unveiled its draft proposals to comprehensively reshape zoning guidelines in Downtown. 

Part of the Downtown Community Plan, also known at DTLA 2040, the proposals would create new rules to guide the Central City and Central City East’s growth over the next 21 years.

Los Angeles Downtown News wrote about the new zoning guidelines last week, which officials believe will drastically improve how development is handled in the Central City.

The proposals mainly center on new land-use designations and are meant to accommodate the nearly 125,000 people who are expected to move into Downtown over the next two decades. Neighborhoods like the Arts District will get new zoning designations, making it easier to build residential projects in areas previously designated manufacturing zones. Meanwhile, the core of Skid Row would be reserved for affordable and supportive housing. Across Downtown there would be new rules for how dense new developments can be making live/work projects in communities like the Fashion District easier to build, and more common. The idea if to streamline the development process and reduce “spot zoning,” or single-site variations to existing zoning rules.

Soon after the Halloween release, the Department of City Planning hosted two community meetings to get feedback from the residents on the details of the plan. More of these community meetings are planned, as a draft environmental report is due out around year’s end, and it is imperative that the community show up.

The plan is massive in scope and the city has long been looking at updating Downtown’s zoning rules since launching recode:la in 2013, a plan to update the city’s 1946 zoning code.

One of the plans biggest changes would do away with parking minimums. Currently, developers are required to provide a certain amount of parking space around their projects based on the buildings use. Under the recently announced draft proposals, parking minimums would be a thing of the past, which officials believe will not only allow developers to build on smaller lots, but also help the environment by decreasing the amount of cars on Downtown roads.

Considering how important the “cars vs. alternative transportation” conversation has been in dense areas like Downtown, any plan that seeks to address or alter the ways that new residents get around Downtown should go through a healthy amount of back and forth. There’s a chance to make these new guidelines truly reflective of the thoughts of those living in Downtown.

We encourage anyone who is concerned or has a stake in the future of the Central City to make the time to participate in the public scoping process. It’s not often that the community gets to weigh in on such an important and possibly game-changing move.

The last two decades showed that Downtown had become a community of its own. Looking ahead at the next two, residents and other stakeholders need to make their voices heard and provide input on how Downtown will grow.