The housing crisis is always on the agenda for the Culver City City Council, and at the City Council Meeting of Jan. 13, 2020, it was about the square footage. The council voted four to zero ( Council member Small was absent) to approve the introduction of an ordinance to amend the zoning code to establish standards for micro-units.
The ordinance will eliminate private open space requirements for studio micro-units; a minimum 100 square feet of open space per unit is required. It will also eliminate parking requirements completely in the Transit Oriented District, and reduce it to a half a parking space per micro-unit in the development – one parking space per two studios.
This will allow development of studio apartments as small as 350 square feet; the current minimum size legally allowed is 500 square feet.
Two of the council members spoke of their own experiences with studio housing. Vice Mayor Goran Eriksson offered that he had been in a studio in a mixed size building (apartments were both micro-units and multi-bedroom units) in his student days in Sweden, and noted that the sense of community in the building had been supportive. Council member Daniel Lee gave his reflection on living in a building that was only studios in Los Angeles, and noted that even without the size differential, there was a sense of community and a reflection of diversity.
The staff report notes that approximately 39% of Culver City households – including 44 percent of renters – are rent burdened, meaning that they pay 30% or more of their monthly income on housing. This could be one more way to address affordability; micro-units are often rented for as much as 30 percent less than standard-sized units.
Single people make up 41% of Culver City households; less space for lower rent might be an attractive option.
The ordinance will return on a future agenda for final approval.