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Santa Monica Wonders if It Wants All These Tiny Apartments

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Santa Monica faces a conundrum: as small apartments proliferate in the city, should officials continue to allow them so there's a healthy stock of affordable residences for young workers or should they limit such units to avoid encouraging a homogeneous population (young familyless professionals) or worse (transient residents who don't stick around in the area)? The Santa Monica Daily Press looks at the issue, which city officials are currently wrestling with. There are hundreds of small studios, as well as single-room occupancy units (aka SROs, which are smaller than 375 square feet), about to come online in SM. The city is doing a "comprehensive review" of zoning ordinances over the next year and a half, and last week discussed the small residence debate.

At issue is developers building "affordable" super-small apartments in exchange for the city granting density bonuses (less stringent parking and setback requirements, etc.)--sometimes these apartments are only cheap because they're tiny, rather than truly "affordable." "Very small affordable apartments are a desirable part of our overall housing mix, but current rent levels sometimes mean that tiny SROs at market rate can qualify as affordable under existing law," Councilman Kevin McKeown wrote in an email obtained by the SMDP. "We need to look at whether the affordability incentives we grant are appropriate for market-rate SROs, and whether we are getting too many tiny units and not enough affordable housing for working families."

The Planning Commission just sent a proposed Expo Line-adjacent development at Fourth and Broadway (pictured) back to the drafting table, partly because too many of the units--all studios--were too small.
· City Officials Eye Influx of Small Housing [SMDP]
· Design, Size Concerns Stall Development [Lookout News]