The process for getting new housing approved can be complex, and there are many different types of housing that we can build, from large apartment buildings all the way down to single accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Occasionally, we’ll use this space to spotlight projects that we have supported, look at the process and approvals the project needs, and explain why we think it’s important for people to voice their support.
What is it? A proposed accessory dwelling unit (ADU), commonly known as a granny flat, in-law apartment, or garage apartment. These units are typically small apartments, located on the same lot as a larger single-family house, though sometimes they are on the same lot as a separate small apartment building.
What discretionary approvals did this project need? A discretionary approval is one where a special permit or a change from zoning regulations is required for the project to be built. In many cases, the current zoning requirements are stricter than the existing buildings surrounding the site. Because of its location in the “Coastal Zone”, this project required a Coastal Development Permit. Because of the arrangement of the site, this project required a zoning adjustment to allow the building setbacks to be less than required by the zoning – 0’ in instead of 5’ at the back, and 2’-4” instead of 3’ on the side.
While adjustments like these are minor by any reasonable standard, they give opponents of new housing a way to slow down or stop construction, because they can appeal the city’s discretionary actions. It is common for Coastal Development Permits and minor adjustments to be appealed.
Why should we support this project? ADUs are some of the most affordable housing units that can be produced. This small unit – 368 SF – increases the diversity of the housing stock, and will likely be affordable to someone who could not afford a larger apartment, such as a student, low-income worker, or elderly person. There are over 1.7 million single-family homes in LA County; even if ADUs were constructed at only 10%, this would be a huge contribution to affordable housing supply. The wider the range of housing types that we build, the more quickly we can address our housing shortage, and the more diverse people we can welcome into the city.