• Dominique Higgins

City of LA Warming Up to Developers

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

Faced with mounting pressure to address homelessness and affordable housing in Los Angeles, many politicians are putting forth tools and solutions to enhance the city’s relationship with developers.

One such example is Ron Galperin, the City Controller, who recently released a new online tool that enables users to look up publicly owned property in the city's limits. Dubbed “Property Panel”, the tool is an online interactive map of approximately 14,000 properties owned by the City, the County, LAUSD, the State, the U.S. government, and the MTA. The panel additionally features dashboards allowing users to search and filter properties by political districts and councils. The hope being, as stated by Galperin, to foster opportunities for affordable housing, senior housing and other business developments (a.k.a by developers).

In a market with extremely low inventory, developers and investors need to incorporate alternative strategies to source projects. Public property is just another one. Typically, cities and public entities will declare certain properties they own 'surplus' and will send them to auction, often providing developers, both large and small, access to properties in high value areas.

LA is beginning to request proposals from developers to buy and construct housing on City owned property.  

Additionally, to meet certain priorities as set by the state, such as affordable housing, senior housing and community development, the city of LA is beginning to request proposals from developers to buy and construct housing on City owned property.  Just a few weeks ago,  City Council President, Herb Wesson, requested the city’s agencies issue a request for proposals from developers interested in bidding and building residential projects on two lots it owns in Leimert Park Village, an area that will be getting a light rail station next year.

I'm most familiar with the City of LA's process, which has a whole division dedicated to tracking city owned property, and sending to auction properties it declares as surplus. While it opens up potential inventory for developers, I will say not all sales are guaranteed to close. Cities change their mind, just like anyone else. One client I’ve worked with successfully bid on a large lot, close to a light rail station, zoned for 15+ units, but the city withdrew the sale. Therefore, employing this strategy does require the right balance of patience and timing.

Either way, if you are a developer in Los Angeles, I would encourage you to learn how the process works, see if it is something that may work for you in the city of Los Angeles:





Access the Property Panel tool: https://lacontroller.org/data-stories-and-maps/propertypanel/