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The challenge of upzoning in a growing region

| Sep 2, 2016 | investment Partnerships

In a prior post, we highlighted the notion of “what’s old is new again” as a redevelopment plan in Los Angeles’ theatre district has revitalized that section of the city. However, making old new again may not be enough to accommodate the growing number of residents and transplants to the city. According to an estimate by UCLA’s Ziman Center for Real Estate, an estimated 300,000 people will move to the region in the next few decades.

This has caused a new discussion over upzoning; the process and practice of changing the zoning rules in a particular area to accommodate higher population density. Upzoning typically involves zoning changes from strict residential use to mixed use (i.e. combinations of retail, office and residential use). Given the popularity of mixed use properties, and the burgeoning need for new housing, upzoning appears to be a good idea that would garner wide support.

However, this support may not be universally shared. After all, higher population density may not be desired by everyone; especially those who have grown accustomed to having smaller numbers of neighbors. This presents a problem given how upzoning commonly occurs in areas with smaller shares of single family homes. More people commonly means more traffic, and a much more difficult time getting around. For those who already loathe traffic, upzoning would not be a welcome sight.

As such, developers who have development plans that require upzoning could benefit from experienced real estate attorneys who understand the legal and political issues, as well as the environmental concerns that come with a project.