LOS ANGELES (March 6, 2018) - At a meeting with developers, brokers, property owners and other stakeholders, Central City Association (CCA) presented its research on micro-units and policy recommendations for how to encourage their construction in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). Micro-units can increase the supply of housing available to middle-income households and are a component of a comprehensive effort to respond to the region's housing crisis. They present new opportunities that benefit cities, residents and developers, and are now legal and financially feasible in DTLA due to recent changes to city zoning rules, including the Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) guidelines. Read the white paper at ccala.org/microunitwhitepaper.
Micro-units - apartments between approximately 140 and 350 square feet in size - have been successful in cities like Seattle and New York. They help cities achieve important goals including providing a more diverse housing stock that reflects the diversity of its communities, improved environmental sustainability, lesser burdens on utilities and city services, and reduced congestion and driving. They also help promote family-friendly development in urban centers as they add complementary housing for singles and retirees and take the pressure off of larger units that families are typically interested in.
Micro-units are not only great for cities but present a win-win solution for both residents and developers. They offer residents a more affordable and accessible housing option, particularly for singles who prefer to live alone and place a premium on location and transit access. For these residents, the neighborhood itself is the most important amenity. Micro-units can be built cost-effectively, secure higher occupancy rates than other rental apartment types and see rent premiums of 25 to 100 percent per square foot compared to larger units, making them an attractive investment for developers.
"Micro-units play a critical role in addressing the region's housing crisis," said Jessica Lall, President & CEO of CCA. "A transit-accessible, urban area like Downtown is the ideal location for building this new type of housing, especially as we prepare to welcome 125,000 more residents by 2040. We look forward to developers leading the way by building some of the first micro-unit buildings in the city and working to create new housing typologies that reflect the diversity of DTLA."
"As Chair of the City's Planning Committee and founding member of our Homelessness committee, we've worked hard over the past several years to adopt real tools to directly address both homelessness and affordable housing needs, such as Measure HHH, Measure JJJ, the Housing Linkage Fee, and the Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance," said Councilmember José Huizar. "In light of the need to build more affordable units as both construction costs and the severity of the housing crisis increases in all our communities, the City must explore a more diverse range of housing types, including micro-units, which can help us meet those expanding needs. I thank CCA for expanding the conversation on ways to make Downtown Los Angeles more affordable for all Angelenos."
CCA also released a white paper on Regional Housing Needs Assessments (RHNA) and policy recommendations to make RHNA more effective. Due to the shortcomings in the current RHNA process, CCA recognized that last year's development streamlining bill, Senate Bill (SB) 35, would provide limited benefits to Los Angeles. The city is currently meeting its production targets for market rate housing, but most policy experts believe that the targets are too low to help improve the affordability landscape in Los Angeles, and meeting our targets means that market-rate housing will not benefit from SB 35 streamlining. SB 828 seeks to address this problem by including "unmet need" from previous RHNA cycles and requiring increased zoning capacity. In this white paper, CCA identifies a number of other interventions that can be taken at the state, local and council of governments (SCAG) level which can further improve the RHNA forecasting process. Read the white paper at ccala.org/rhnawhitepaper.
"One of the key components of CCA's strategic plan is to develop and disseminate research that supports our advocacy agenda," said Tom Gilmore, CEO of Gilmore Associates and CCA Board Chair. "These white papers with policy recommendations on promoting micro-units in DTLA and reforming Regional Housing Needs Assessments address our top priorities and showcase our vision for the future of Downtown Los Angeles."
For more information on CCA white papers, see www.ccala.org/what-we-do/whitepapers.