Planning commissioners pushing for more affordable housing in Los Angeles County are poised to jump on a decade-old plan calling for smaller homes on smaller lots, which, they hope, will come with smaller price tags.
Inspired by a 2009 feasibility study showing the concept workable, the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission directed staffers in 2012 to begin work making “the smaller homes on smaller lots” a reality.
The idea behind the compact lot subdivision ordinance is that prospective homeowners would purchase a smaller home if the price was affordable.
On Wednesday, staffers at the county Department of Regional Planning updated commissioners on their efforts these past six years to make the compact lot concept work.
The presentation — and the discussion that followed — are part of an ongoing effort to keep commissioners informed about the planning department’s efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing and to combat homelessness.
Commissioners were positive about plans to go public with the “smaller homes, smaller lots” plan.
“They were positive,” Tina Fung, spokeswoman for the General Plan Development and Housing Section, said after the presentation was given.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a public presentation in the spring of 2019,” she said.
Over the last six years, officials with the planning department’s Subdivision Committee representing key county agencies required in making the concept a reality have been meeting regularly on the concept, Fung said.
Key agencies include: the Department of Public Works, Public Health and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
“We’ve been having working meetings from the (2012) start,” she said. “It’s all about smaller single-family residential units on smaller lots.”
Commissioners hope the ordinance will encourage a diversity of housing types that would meet diverse housing needs.
Once approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the ordinance would amend existing zoning and housing components of the County Code.
It would greenlight the construction of smaller “fee-simple” single-family homes in already approved areas that allow for multi-family residential units.
The compact lots would be smaller than the typical minimum area lots of 5,000 square feet and a minimum lot width of 50 feet.
The required area of a compact lot would be 1,750 square feet for a single-family home. Even smaller lots of 1,450 square feet would be allowed for certain residential zones.
The required width of a compact lot would range from 19 feet to 38 feet, with front yards measuring 15 feet and back yards measuring 10 feet.
The minimum width of ground floor habitable space is defined as 14 feet with a minimum floor area of 575 square feet.
County commissioners reviewing applications for housing projects in the Santa Clarita Valley have made it clear in hearings the past couple of months that affordable housing is a priority for county officials.
In August, commissioners, after reviewing plans to add 820 homes to Tesoro del Valle, asked the developer to make room in the project for affordable housing and an emergency homeless housing facility.
And, when developers returned to the commission with no plan in place for affordable housing, commissioners expressed their disappointment.
Although they voted in favor of the proposed 820-home Highlands housing project, the decision was not unanimous. The end vote was 3-2 with two commissioners admonishing the developer for not including affordable housing in the project.
The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the compact lot subdivision ordinance when it is unveiled in the spring.