The State of California passed enabling legislation that permits municipal governments to enter into "development agreements." These essentially bypass the existing zoning, though they must be in conformity with the comprehensive plan. The contract between the developer and the municipality specifies what the developer may do and also what he or she is required to do within the project area. The developer benefits by being permitted to do things not permitted under the existing zoning. The developer of a multistage project also gets the security of knowing that zoning and other controls will not change during the development process or "build-out" period, because the municipality is legally bound by the contract. The municipality benefits by being able to require things of the developer as a condition for signing the contract.
In the case of Colorado Place, an office development in Santa Monica, the developer benefited by being allowed to build above the 45-foot height limit specified in the zoning ordinance and also by being able to include in the project some uses not permitted under the existing zoning. The city benefited by requiring that the developer build some off-site low-income housing and provide and maintain a small on-site park and a childcare center.