El Segundo, California

El Segundo, population 16,654 (2010), is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west and Los Angeles International Airport on the north. Sepulveda Boulevard, a six-lane highway, bisects the City and provides a critical north-south link.

The City has a TDR ordinance that allows density to be transferred from properties west of Sepulveda Boulevard to properties east of Sepulveda Boulevard. The TDR program is intended to facilitate the relocation of future development away from residential areas, with no net increase in floor area, in an effort to reduce traffic congestion. Chapter 20.64 Transfer of Development Rights has not been amended since 1998. Consequently, the following description of El Segundo’s TDR process remains unchanged from the case study that appeared in Beyond Takings and Givings in 2003.


In the El Segundo TDR program, donor sites are parcels located west of Sepulveda Boulevard within the C-3 or CO zones. Receiving sites are parcels located east of Sepulveda Boulevard within the C-3, CO, MU-N and M-1 zones. To transfer development rights, the donor and receiving sites must be under common ownership and within the same Traffic Analysis Zone.

The Planning Commission conducts a public hearing on each transfer application. The Commission can approve or deny a transfer request based on compliance with eight criteria. One of these criteria requires that the proposed transfer provide a public benefit such as improved traffic circulation, open space, recreational facilities, landscaping or pedestrian access. Another criterion states that the square footage of the transfer may not exceed 10 percent of the total building square footage for each traffic analysis zone. In addition, the proposed Transfer Plan must recognize and compensate for potential impacts that could be generated by the proposed transfer such as aesthetics, noise, smoke, dust, fumes, vibration, odors, traffic and hazards. Any affected person can appeal the Commission’s decision to the City Council.

Program Status

In a March 2005 update, Paul Garry, Senior Planner, reported that Boeing Satellite System received approval for the City’s first density transfer in 2003. The transfer met all three criteria for a transfer. 1) The donor and receiver sites were under common ownership. 2) More than 25,000 square feet of floor area were transferred. 3) The approval transferred floor area from the west side to the east side of Sepulveda Boulevard. Specifically, approval transferred 55,776 square feet of floor area from the donor site. The transfer allowed an existing high-bay building at the receiving site east of Sepulveda Boulevard to increase floor area by 45,776 square feet leaving 10,000 square feet of floor area for future development of office space.