DTLA 2040

City of Los Angeles releases draft plan for 20 years of downtown growth

Downtown Los Angeles is headed for a major rezoning ahead of 2040. (Flickr/Daniel Ramirez)

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning has announced a new plan that frames the city’s long-term priorities for development. Called DTLA 2040, the outline breaks down how the city’s core will be strengthened to accommodate the estimated 125,000 more people, 70,000 more housing units, and 55,000 more jobs expected for the downtown area in the next two decades. 

Over the next few months, the agency will be asking locals for feedback on a preliminary draft of the Downtown Community Plan—its official name—which locals were able to view online as of July. The proposal is broken down into three main categories: policy, land use, and zoning, and determines how Downtown Los Angeles and its current 80,000 residents will grapple with future growth.

The proposed zoning plan breaks the downtown area into 10 land use designations, from its transit core to public facilities, to open space, and production, among others. It’s a logical next step for the agency to do this, since it announced a commitment to progressive land-use and transportation reform across the entire city late last year ahead of the 2028 Olympic Games. The plan falls under re:code LA, a major update to the city’s 73-year-old zoning code. An initial draft is coming soon. 

Two maps showing where more mixed use development will occur in purple in Los Angeles

Where zoning for mixed-use development is in 2019 vs. the 2040 proposal. (Courtesy DTLA 2040 Draft)

A pivotal part of the Downtown Community Plan to rezone L.A.’s Central City includes a new Community Benefits program, an incentive model in which developers could build taller and denser structures if they offer public amenities and affordable housing. This is critical, according to a city planner who spoke with Urbanize L.A., because the next 20 years of growth will occur in just one percent of the city’s total land area.  

Critics of the idea worry it will exacerbate L.A.’s worsening homeless crisis. A large portion of Skid Row is expected to be developed into market-rate housing and commercial use. Curbed L.A. reported that only a section of Skid Row is slated to be rezoned for affordable housing, which is a start, but it’s not enough according to some community homeless advocates.

The Downtown Community Plan isn’t just about housing, however, it’s also about advancing mobility in terms of pedestrian traffic, cycling, and driving, as well as reinforcing the neighborhood’s character. Downtown residents can provide comments on the overall proposal until it’s adopted by the city council.  

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