Areas of Los Angeles are rethinking the zoning process to promote more affordable development for today and tomorrow. The strategy includes aspects that will improve density, inspire local business along with overall community development with better walkability.

The city of Los Angeles is in the middle of a multi-year process to rewrite its zoning code. Among the neighborhoods that are in the process of having that code retooled: Boyle Heights. City planners have been staging meetings around the neighborhood to develop the plan, which is expected to go into effect in 2019.

The plan will affect residential building and bring a new “Innovation District” to the neighborhood at a time when Boyle Heights has been contending with anti-gentrification protests.

As with similar plans for other parts of Los Angeles, the Boyle Heights Community Plan calls for higher-density building along transit corridors and changing backyard setbacks to help legalize existing apartment units in an effort to alleviate the housing crunch.

According to the Southern California Assn. of Governments, Boyle Heights is predicted to expand by more than 8% in the next two decades, from an estimated 86,000 residents to 93,000. The number of residential units in that same period is expected to grow from 23,000 to 27,000.

The zoning plan will also include strategies for preserving the neighborhood’s intimate commercial corridors — walkable stretches along East 1st Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue that are lined with mom-and-pop businesses.

The idea, says senior city planner Haydee Urita-Lopez, who is overseeing the update on the Boyle Heights plan, is to prevent commercial strips from turning into dull rows of big box chains that push out out small family businesses.

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