Los Angeles Hotels Blog

May 16, 2010

Building And Construction In Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, situated on the nation’s West Coast, surrounded by the San Bernardino Mountain Range, is the largest city in California. The city has come a long way since it was founded in 1781 by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. Building and construction has proceeded at a somewhat uneven pace since then. The downtown area, in particular, is currently undergoing something of a rebirth, with many historic buildings being converted into expensive lofts.

Most major downtown department stores once existed in stand-alone buildings in the area. A good few of them were closed in the 1970’s and 80’s, heralding a movement away from stand-alones and into modern office centers and shopping malls. With the city’s westward movement of the commercial center, downtown LA was devoid of much nightlife until recently.

Although the building and construction process proceeded apace, the LA City Council made things even faster by enacting a reuse ordinance, which made it easier for developers to turn vacant commercial office buildings to highbrow lofts and exclusive apartment complexes. A slew of professionals, fed up with the city’s notorious traffic problems, were quick to move in.

The number of residents in downtown LA has grown since the early 2000’s, partly due to all the building and construction, with a more than 15 percent increase to about 28,000 persons. This amount superseded estimates and, with many more housing units under construction, has pushed the total count to potentially be more than 40,000 by the end of 2008. Unfortunately, the number of available jobs in the area has fallen to 418,000, down from an estimated 605,000 a decade ago.

Recently, the City Council approved major changes to the downtown’s zoning rules. Muchly desired by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the changes will accelerate more building and construction by allowing for larger and more closely-packed developments. Additionally, builders who keep 15 percent of their units for poor residents are to be exempt from certain code requirements and edifices can be constructed that are over 30 percent larger than current zoning laws call for.

Interestingly, a number of the core downtown buildings date way back from the early 1900’s. Between then and the late 1050’s, an ordinance kept building heights at under 150 feet, causing a fairly consistent skyline. Allegedly, it was done not for fear of earthquakes, but to maintain a uniform height in the area and to avoid New York City style congestion. None of these laws exist today, as a skyline full of tall office buildings bears evidence to.

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