From the Desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Update on the Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance

The Initiative:
Los Angeles City Council is currently considering its vote on an ordinance to amend the municipal code to comply with the updated State Law, which will allow for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) citywide.  Council File 16-1468 

Action(s):
On behalf of AIA|LA, I testified at the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Meeting to share our support for the proposed ordinance along with a few additional considerations, which included:

  • To raise the maximum limit on square footage for an ADU from 640 sq ft to at least 900 sq ft so as to better enable two bedroom units.  

Why raise the limit from the 640 Sq foot max? Lifting the maximum floor area allowed will foster greater economic feasibility, facilitate multi-generational living, increase housing affordability, promote the creation of healthy mixed-income communities, facilitate greater social inclusion and allow for heightened resilience by sharing the existing infrastructure of built neighborhoods.

I also advocated for greater flexibility in the siting provisions, which would allow for an ADU in the front yard when and if certain design considerations are met.

Results:
Members of City Council’s PLUM committee moved to support the Department of City Planning recommendation and the matter will be scheduled at a full City Council meeting on DATE TBD.

PLUM did amend DCP’s language to lift the maximum FAR from 640 to 1200 sq ft and/or no greater than 50% of the size of the primary residence. 

My request to enable ADU’s in front yards was largely ignored by Council.  However, I remain convinced that, at times, given the right conditions, allowing for an ADU to be built in front of an existing home  if that existing home is an older home built in the back of the yard.  Such flexibility may be a smart solution provided that it complies with all of the required set-backs and the design of the new ADU enhances the existing community. 

Next Steps & More Info:
Once the matter has been scheduled at City Council, we have a chance to support the revised draft as proposed by PLUM and ensure that the code allows for ADU’s up to 1200 Sq ft and/or 50% of the primary residence.  

This provision may see a great deal of pushback from the office of Councilmember Koretz (CD 5) who wants to see more strict provisions that limit the ability to build reasonable-sized ADU’s especially in hillside areas.

It will be important to rally more architects to share their support for ADU’s with their council members. I will be there on behalf of the profession just in case architects do not have the chance to participate in this process.
Last updated: 27-Mar-2017 10:31 AM
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