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What are small-lot subdivisions?
We are researching strategies for adding more affordable and creative housing options to our community. Can you provide some information on small-lot subdivisions?
In 2005, Los Angeles passed the first Small Lot Ordinance that cleared the way for creative residential developments of small homes on smaller lots as a way to increase the production of affordable housing options as infill development. Since then, a number of other cities, mainly in California but also in other states including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Texas, have adopted small-lot subdivision ordinances. These ordinances reduce standards for minimum lot sizes, widths, and setbacks to allow infill development of smaller housing in support of affordability and increasing housing options available to local residents. In some communities, such as Los Angeles, the ordinance is targeted at individual lots within already-developed neighborhoods; in other cities, minimum parcel size requirements make this an option for redeveloping larger sites with small-lot subdivisions.
Small-lot subdivision ordinances typically address minimum size and dimensional standards; minimum lot size tends to range from 3,000 to 5,000 SF, depending on the community. Discretionary approval may be needed for these projects. Small-lot construction may be limited to certain districts. Some communities provide detailed development and design standards for small-lot developments, addressing site and building design, public and private open space requirements, parking, landscaping, and other elements.
In general, this tool is intended to promote greater affordability and housing choice, yet there are questions as to whether in Los Angeles small-lot projects are working to displace low-income and long-term residents. Several background resources in the list below focus on Los Angeles's ordinance and experience.
- Austin (Texas), City of. 2015. Land Development Code. Title 25, Land Development; Chapter 25-2, Zoning; Subchapter C, Use and Development Regulations; Article 4, Additional Requirements for Certain Uses; Division 1, Residential Uses; Subpart A, Section 25-2-799, Small Lot Single-Family Residential Use. Also see Title 30, Austin/Travis County Subdivision Regulations; Chapter 30-2, Subdivision Requirements; Article 3, Platting Requirements; Division 6, Special Subdivisions; Section 30-2-232, Small Lot Subdivisions. www.municode.com/library/tx/austin/codes/land_development_code
- Aurora (Colorado), City of. 2014. Building and Zoning. Chapter 146, Zoning; Article 11, General Development Standards; Section 146-1101, Lot Requirements; part B, Single-Family Detached Lots Less than 6,000 Square Feet (Small Lots). www.municode.com/library/co/aurora/codes/building_and_zoning
- Costa Mesa (California), City of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title 13, Planning, Zoning and Development; Chapter V, Development Standards; Article 2.5, Residential Small Lot Subdivisions. www.municode.com/library/ca/costa_mesa/codes/code_of_ordinances
- Hesperia (California), City of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title 16, Development Code; Chapter 16.16, Land Use Designations; Article V, Residential Development Standards; Section 16.16.125, Additional Development Standards for Small Lot Subdivisions in the R1 Designation. www.municode.com/library/ca/hesperia/codes/code_of_ordinances
- Indian River (Florida), County of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title IX, Land Development Regulations; Chapter 971, Regulations for Specific Land Uses; Section 971.41, Residential Uses; part 9, Small Lot Single-Family Subdivisions (Administrative Permit). www.municode.com/library/fl/indian_river_county/codes/code_of_ordinances
- Lancaster (California), City of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title 17, Zoning; Chapter 17.08, Residential Zones; Article II, Non-urban, Urban, Medium and High Density Residential Zones; Section 17.08.080, Infill Residential Development. www.municode.com/library/ca/lancaster/codes/code_of_ordinances
- Los Angeles (California), City of, Department of City Planning. 2014. Small Lot Design Guidelines. http://cityplanning.lacity.org/PolicyInitiatives/Housing
- Los Angeles (California), City of. 2005. Ordinance No. 176354: To Permit Detached For-Sale Small Lot Subdivisions in Commercial and Multifamily Residential Zones. http://cityplanning.lacity.org/Code_Studies/Housing/Townhouse176354.pdf
- Modative. 2009. Small Lot Subdivision Guide: Los Angeles, CA. http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/41216/docs/small_lot_guide_v1.pdf
- Morro Bay (California), City of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title 16, Subdivisions; Chapter 16.40, Compact In-Fill Developments. www.municode.com/library/ca/morro_bay/codes/code_of_ordinances
- Pima (Arizona), County of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title 18, Zoning; Chapter 18.09, General Residential and Rural Zoning Provisions; Section 18.09.080, Small Lot Subdivision Option. Chapter 18.27, CR-4 Mixed-Dwelling Type Zone; Section 18.27.050, Small Lot Subdivision Option. Chapter 18.29, CR-5 Multiple Residence Zone; Section 18.29.050, Small Lot Subdivision Option. www.municode.com/library/az/pima_county/codes/code_of_ordinances
- Scheinbaum, Chase. 2015. " L.A.'s Small Lot Homes: Destroying Low-Rent Housing, Restoring the American Dream, or Both?" KCET News, February 9. www.kcet.org/news/agenda/planning/los-angeles-small-lot-homes.html
- Vallejo (California), City of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Title 15, Subdivisions; Chapter 15.20, Developed Small Lot Subdivisions. www.municode.com/library/ca/vallejo/codes/code_of_ordinances
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2011. "Case Studies – Los Angeles, California: Small Lot Ordinance." www.huduser.org/portal/casestudies/study_102011_1.html