Photo by Brian McCall on Unsplash

The City of Long Beach Planning Commission is considering a pilot program that would permit developers to construct up to 500 micro-units throughout Downtown and Midtown. Micro-units typically measure under 350 square feet and include a functioning kitchen and bathroom. 

A staff report published today recommends that City Council adopt a zoning amendment that would allow for the creation of the pilot program. Similar measures have been passed in Pasadena and Culver City, where several micro-unit developments have entered the planning stages.

The program is not being touted as a solution to the affordable housing crisis, but rather a less expensive rental option for students and young professionals seeking to live in “highly desirable locations, close to public transit.”

The report cites a 2015 study by the Urban Land Institute, which found that micro-units lease for 20 to 30 percent less than conventional studio apartments. Diversifying the housing stock also makes amenity-rich neighborhoods more accessible to a range of income levels, suggests a research report by the National Association of Homebuilders. 

If given the green light, the program would permit five to 10 projects to be built with micro-units — including either a mix of unit types or an exclusively micro-unit development. These buildings would be granted leniency on floor area ratios and height limits. Open space requirements would also be tweaked, but not reduced or eliminated, to allow for common open space amenities like landscaped courtyards or rooftop terraces.

Upon completion, the City would review the results of the pilot project before adopting any permanent regulations.

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