Questions you as an Owner or a Broker, SHOULD be asking:

The more complex and dense the city, the more serious the question:  Has the zoning for this buyer/seller/tenant been vetted to a sufficient degree?

A:  If it’s a multi-million dollar deal, of course it has.  If it’s a dental office of 2,000 square feet going into a retail center on Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, probably not.

Read the fascinating stories in Jeremy Rosenberg’s column Laws That Shaped L.A. (Exceptions Rule: The Dirty Little Secret of L.A.'s Zoning Code | Laws That Shaped LA | Departures Columns | KCET) written by James Brasuell.  The article helps us understand the complex zoning overlay system that blankets LA’s zoning map, affecting 60% of it’s real estate.  What are the chances the property you represent is lying under one of those blankets?  Yep, pretty likely.

So, what does it mean?  It means that more than half of all real estate in Los Angeles will be affected by some kind of specialized restricting detail on top of, or in addition to, what the simple zoning designation describes.  A prefix of a [Q] for Qualified, [T] for Tentative, or [D] for Development Restriction, in front of any  property zoning designation, is a red alert for more research.  You must discover what restrictions or exceptions were placed on that property in addition to those imposed by the simple zoning designation.  The aforementioned article is a fascinating look at how developers of 50-60 years ago managed to build through a complex zoning system and leave the city with antiquated and sometimes ridiculous requirements for their grandchildren.  For the broker and architect, it can be a mine field without careful vetting.

SOA provides the needed additional research in instances such as these.  Read more about SOA’s Value Added Planning Consultation for your clients.

- Patrick McIlhenney, AIA


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