Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are small-lot homes the solution to L.A.'s so-called housing crisis?

You may have seen these in Van Nuys, North Hollywood, Silverlake, Venice and elsewhere: small-lot homes.  L.A. City passed an ordinance allowing these kind of buildings about 10 or so years ago. These aren't "tiny" homes. Instead, they are a condo/single family home hybrid.  The unit is separate from its neighbors (but not by much), has a two-car garage, and usually a small yard.  There are no HOAs although there is usually a fee for common area upkeep (such as a shared driveway or trash pickup.) There are two to six on a regular residential lot, and there can be developments of 30 or more in outlying areas. Are these the solution to L.A.'s "need" for density?

Not everybody is a fan of these.  Personally, I think these are great ideas.  Now that Measure S has been defeated, what would you rather have -- four units on one lot on your residential street, or a three-story, 18 unit condo complex on the corner? If we must shoe-horn more and more people into residential areas (I'm not sure we do, but everybody else says we do), this can be a great option that preserves neighborhood character.  Just like the old-fashioned bungalow court apartment units.  Fun fact: none of my buyers want one of these, but I expect that may change as homes get more and more expensive.
Photo above: 2872 Allesandro, L.A., courtesy of

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