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Small Lot Homes Are Increasing in LA

May 2016


Small Lot Single Family Homes

Many home buyers looking for property in Los Angeles are willing to forego a large lot and yard in exchange for new construction in convenient locations such as Mid-City, Hollywood, Echo Park, Hollywood Hills and Silver Lake. For these buyers, small lot developments are perfect. 

Typically, small lot developments involve multiple-level, townhome-style single family homes with little or no back yards and minimal setback from the property boundaries. The benefit of these properties are that they are brand new and are typically built by established developers, often with perks such as solar panels, wireless remotes for locks, central air/heat, high end appliances,  latest trends in home gadgets, roof desks & often friendly to Mother Nature. 

The properties are typically marketed before they are completely finished, allowing buyers to customize the property with hand-picked flooring, moldings, appliances, etc. More importantly, they are typically situated in high-density locations that are convenient to downtown Los Angeles, making the properties extremely attractive to young professionals.

When did small lot homes start?

In 2005, the Los Angeles Municipal Code was amended to add Section 12.22-C, 27, also known as the Small Lot Ordinance. The Small Lot Ordinance modified zoning requirements to reduce lot size requirements, amended parking requirements, and allowed large parcels to be subdivided into multiple smaller parcels. It was designed by the city of Los Angeles as a way to increase density in urban areas, lower the price of single-family homes and boost homeownership. 

The Small Lot Ordinance allows for the subdivision of underutilized land in multi-family and commercial areas into “fee-simple” homes, or single family homes. It’s purpose was to “infill development and a smart-growth alternative to traditional, suburban style single-family subdivisions. 

But even though small-lot developments will contribute to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's goal of adding 100,000 homes in the city by 2021, the ordinance is not without its detractors. In Silver Lake and Echo Park, some neighbors are petitioning for a moratorium on the developments, citing traffic, privacy and density concerns.

Architect Barbara Bestor says density is an imperative for urban living. "The question is more about how do you keep a cool, interesting neighborhood intact while building a small house that is not a generic town house."

For now, the townhomes and row houses have proved popular with homeowners, who are snapping up small-lot homes in Silver Lake, Echo Park and Eagle Rock, and new developments are planned for Eagle Rock, Hollywood and Frogtown. Blackbirds developer Casey Lynch believes further infill development in dense neighborhoods will result in more affordable home prices. But so far, home prices have continued to rise, and Los Angeles continues to be ranked among the least-affordable housing markets in the country.

Lisa Boone Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
Amir A. Torkamani Copyright © March 12, 2015
Edited by Barbara Allen

  Barbara Allen

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