At its meeting tomorrow, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion from Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl that would instruct the Department of Regional Planning to draft four ordinances intended to facilitate the development of new affordable housing in unincorporated areas.

The motion calls for an ordinance to preserve existing affordable housing units, including income-restricted and "naturally occurring affordable housing."  If adopted, the Supervisors would instruct the Department of Regional Planning to consider strategies such as the regulation of condominium conversions and mobile park closures, as well as one-to-one replacement of existing affordable housing - otherwise known as a "no net loss" policy.

Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas are hoping to take advantage of new developments in communities seeing market-rate residential development through the creation of an inclusionary housing policy, which would encourage the construction of new affordable units within market rate rental developments.  Proponents of the policy argue that it can disrupt "historic patterns of de facto economic segregation," by increasing the stock of affordable housing within gentrifying communities.  The Supervisors state that the passing of AB 1505 by the State of California in 2017 provides clear legal authority to create an inclusionary housing policy for the first time since 2009.

Following the lead of the City of Los Angeles, the Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas' motion also directs the Department of Regional Planning to draft a motion that would streamline the production of affordable housing - including the conversion of motels into homeless shelters.

Lastly, the Supervisors are calling for an ordinance that would allow for multifamily residential development by-right in commercial zones, aligning with existing policy in the City of Los Angeles.  An op-ed by Housing for CA recently called for adopting this policy statewide as a strategy for tackling California's housing crisis, in addition to 24 other policy prescriptions.

The call to action by Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas follows the release of the 2018 Affordable Housing Action Plan, which found that the County needs to add more than 17,000 residential units for households earning less than 10 percent of the area median income in unincorporated areas.  Yet between 2014 and 2016, just 226 units were built targeting this income bracket.

The Affordable Housing Action Plan also recommended six other strategies, including an affordable housing linkage fee, community land trusts, value capture and more innovative housing typologies.  While these strategies were determined to require further study or alternative implementation strategies, calls for affordable housing preservation and inclusionary zoning were included in the motion by Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas.

The seventh strategy - promoting the development of accessory dwelling units - is being addressed through a separate ordinance that will be considered by the Board of Supervisors in the near-term future.

Looking up the Harbor Freeway. Image courtesy of Hunter Kerhart Architectural Photography.

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L.A. is ready for micro-units

Micro-units are apartments as small as 140 square feet and as large as 350, and they take a variety of forms.

In a county facing a shortage of a million housing units, how can we provide more affordable housing, be more welcoming to families, and boost transit ridership in our urban centers? For all three, the answer comes in a small package: micro-units.

Micro-units are apartments as small as 140 square feet and as large as 350, and they take a variety of forms. They can include shared-living arrangements or be entirely self-contained with bathrooms, full kitchens, and even in-unit washers and dryers. They can be amenity-rich or relatively barebones.