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How Executive Directive 1 Could Be a Game-Changer for Your City's Housing Crunch

LA's Bold Move to Solve the Housing Crisis

If you've been following the housing crisis (or, honestly, just trying to find a decent place to live without breaking the bank), you've probably felt a mix of frustration and despair. But hold onto your hats because Los Angeles is shaking things up in a way that could be a real game-changer, not just for Angelinos but for all of us dreaming of more affordable digs. Enter Executive Directive 1 (ED1), ordered by Mayor Karen Bass in late 2022, and it's proving to be the urban housing hack we've been waiting for.

So, what's the big deal with ED1? Imagine a world where the red tape that usually slows down the creation of affordable housing is just no longer in the way. That's what LA is gunning for. This isn't your typical bureaucratic shuffle. Instead, it's a full-throttle push towards making affordable housing projects a lot less of a headache to get off the ground. The goal? More homes for people who need them, and fast, and it’s working incredibly well.

The secret sauce of ED1 is its streamlined approval process. Basically, if you're looking to build housing that's 100% affordable (normally a rarity), you get to skip to the front of the line. No more getting bogged down in endless reviews or zoning nightmares. It's like LA looked at the rulebook, circled the parts that made affordable housing nearly impossible, and said, "Nah, we're doing things differently."

And here's where it gets even cooler: this isn't just about making the process faster; it's about making it smarter. By setting ambitious deadlines for city departments (60 days or less for approvals), ED1 ensures that projects don't just sit around gathering dust – a novel concept, right?

But, of course, no plan is perfect. There's a lot of chatter about whether this fast-track approach could steamroll over community concerns or lead to a one-size-fits-all type of development that doesn't fit every neighborhood's vibe. And those are valid points. Part of what makes cities great is their diversity, not just in people but in places. Finding the balance between speed and sensitivity is key.

What's super exciting, though, is what ED1 represents for the rest of us living in cities that feel more like giant Monopoly boards, where affordable housing is the elusive unicorn. Los Angeles is showing that with some out-of-the-box thinking (and a healthy dose of political will), cities can start to tackle the housing crisis head-on.

So, what can your city learn from LA's playbook? A lot, actually. There are 4 key steps that led to this initiative’s success:

  1. Streamlined Approval Processes

  2. Rapid Permit Processing and Inspections

  3. Coordination and Financial Incentives

  4. Flexibility in Housing Placement

Overall, it's about getting serious with policies that encourage (dare we say, prioritize) the development of affordable housing. It's about looking at those dusty old zoning laws and asking, "Do these really serve our community's needs?" And, most importantly, it's about action – because the best policies aren't just words on a page; they're the ones that bring real homes to real people.

As we watch how ED1 is unfolding in Los Angeles, there's a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the tide is turning in the urban housing crisis. And who knows? By treating your housing crisis as an actual emergency, your city could be next on the path to a more affordable, livable future. Catch you on this next wave of housing reform.

Michael Moore is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Resident Urbanist. He has previously written for Streetsblog and Millennial American Dream, he has also been covered on Planetizen, the How We Work podcast, and StrongHaven. You can follow him on Threads, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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