The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission is currently in the process of adopting General Plan 2035. Like Obamacare, General Plan 2035 checks in at a whopping 900 pages. It seeks to reshape the county through mandates including: expanded transit districts, expanded mixed use development, mandatory farming districts, and “Employment Protection Districts”-which prevent land use changes. These proposals will surely have significant effects on development in Los Angeles County.
Pacific Legal Foundation, submitted this comment letter in response to the proposed regulation. Our letter notifies the Planning Commission that the regulation may violate the Constitution, which requires that permit conditions have an essential nexus and be roughly proportional to the impact of a proposed project. In our letter we focused on four ways that the Hillside Management Area ordinance threatens property rights.
1. The plan will require property owners in rural areas to dedicate 70% of their property to conservation easements. Absent a connection between the harm done by the development this amounts to unconstitutional extortion.
2. The plan requires an open space dedication without showing that development in those parcels needs to be offset with open space. Nolan and Dolan require the government to prove such a need, but the regulation places the burden on the property owner.
3. Low density development will now be treated the same as high density development. This suggests that the county is failing to make an individualized determination of impact.
4. The purpose of the plan is not to prevent environmental degradation but instead to confiscate land, without compensation, for scenic views.
Recently we received this response from the Los Angeles County Counsel. It is noteworthy because it suggests that the county has broad authority. It reaches this position because some courts have deferred to counties that enact broad zoning rules even if those exact decisions would be subject to a higher level of scrutiny on an individual basis. Although courts have created such defenses, PLF continues the fight to ensure that all government actions are scrutinized for their impact on individuals.