L.A. to Legalize Residential Units Previously Created in Violation of Building Code

On May 10, 2017, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that would permit previously unapproved dwelling units that had been created without a city permit. The ordinance addresses the 2,560 units identified by Los Angeles enforcement agencies that were created between 2010 and 2015 by landlords that divided single apartments into two separate apartment units.

The ordinance is part of the city's effort to alleviate a shortage of affordable housing by increasing the supply of permitted residential units. In exchange for legalizing a non-conforming unit, the owner must provide at least one rent-restricted affordable unit for up to 55 years.

To be eligible for legal status under the new ordinance, the building with the unapproved unit must be located in a multiple family zone of R2 or above, the building owner must demonstrate that the unit existed as of Dec. 10, 2015, and the building must be free of other code violations.

L.A. City Planning to Require Use of Pre-Qualified Environmental Consultants

In an effort to prevent the City of Los Angeles from having to defend itself against lawsuits brought under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Los Angeles Department of City Planning (City Planning) will soon start requiring private developers to use pre-qualified environmental consultants to prepare environmental impact reports. City Planning spokesperson Cheryl Getuiza told The Real Deal that the city is looking to partner with "environmental professionals who have experience preparing comprehensive and defensible program-level environmental studies." The vetting process for consultants who wish to be on City Planning's pre-qualified list will begin in June.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to Pay Treasury Department $5 Billion

Citing a relatively stable mortgage market and a continued decline in delinquencies, the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Fannie Mae, said it intends to make a $2.8 billion dividend payment to the U.S. Department of the Treasury in June. Likewise, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, commonly known as Freddie Mac, announced that its June dividend payment to the Treasury Department will be $2.2 billion.

After coming under control of the federal government during the Great Recession, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received a combined $187.5 billion in federal aid before the companies returned to profitability. The terms of their bailouts require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to turn over almost all profits to the Treasury Department. With next month's payments, the two companies will have returned approximately $271 billion to the government.