Los Angeles Height Districts

Building Height is one of the main variables zoning codes control. Building Height is a key factor in the planning for any building design.  

§ Section 12.21.1 of Los Angeles Municipal code deals with Building Heights. 

Here is a table of Max Heights for Residential Zones:

If only it were this easy! Unfortunately the Los Angeles Zoning code is messy. There are a number of zoning provisions that can change the Maximum Building Height for a property, which makes things more complicated.

ZIMAS

What is the heck is Zimas? Zimas is an acronym for “Zone Information and Map Access System”. Pretty boring full name if you ask me, but I like Zimas (reminds me of the clear vodka like drink from the nineties). You will hear a lot of planners at the zoning counter talking about Zimas- they spend most of the day on the website.

Zimas is the first place you want to check to determine the property’s Height Limits:

http://zimas.lacity.org/

Type in your address and open up the “Planning and Zoning Tab” 

The Zoning Tab contains all the properties zoning information. Don’t be intimidated by the huge drop down menu, most of the fields are blank for most parcels.

One feature I love about Zimas is that the Zoning Information is linked to the related zoning documents. Any field that is a “No” or “None” you don’t care about.

In the example above the Property :1720 Winmar- is an “RS” Zone, and it has modifications “ZI-2462”, and it is in an Enterprise zone ZI-2129. Since this is a residential property and enterprise zones deal with commercial properties this doesn’t have any affect. You can also see there is a General Plan Footnote, good to check that also. The big one here, is that it is in a hillside zone, which means it falls under the baseline hillside zoning ordnance. That is going to change the rules for max height dramatically.

 

Height Modifiers:

-Special Height Districts (L, VL, XL, SS)

-Overlay Zones: HPOZ, Baseline Hillside Ordinance, Coastal Zone

-Community Specific Plans

-General Plan footnotes

 

SPECIAL HEIGHT DISTRICTS

If you see a dash and L, VL, XL, or SS after the zone this indicates a special height district. For R1, if you see R1-L, or R1-VL, or R1-XL this means that even though R1 Zone is 

 

Lets take an example so you can see how this can change things.

Let’s suppose you have a R1-1XL Zone Lot. For the R1 Zone the Max Height is 33 feet. However for R1-1XL the max height is now reduced to 30 Feet. 

OVERLAY ZONES

Baseline Hillside Ordinance

§ LAMC Section 12.21C.10-4

 

 

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