Culver City - increasingly a hub for both technology and entertainment firms - is the latest Los Angeles County jurisdiction looking to pave the way for the development of micro-unit apartments.

Later today, the Culver City Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance which would enable development of studio apartments as small as 350 square feet - a reduction from the current minimum size of 500 square feet.  

The ordinance would also:

  • eliminate private open space requirements for studio micro-units, though a minimum 100 square feet of open space per unit is required (the entirety of which may be placed on a building's rooftop); and
  • require 0.5 parking spaces per micro-unit apartment, with the exception of projects in the Culver City TOD District, where no parking would be required.

A staff report to the City Council notes that approximately 39 percent of Culver City households - including 44 percent of renters - are rent burdened, meaning that they pay 30 percent or more of their monthly income on housing.  Additionally, single-person households make up 34.8 percent of the total households in Culver City, a number that increases to 41 percent when considering renter-occupied households.

The staff report argues that studio micro-units typically offer 20 to 30 percent lower monthly rents than standard-sized units in any given market, and may fulfill the need for more reasonably priced housing for single persons in Culver City - including older adults.

Micro-unit apartments, commonplace for years in many world cities, have been more recently embraced by developers in the United States - particularly in Seattle, where thousands have been built since 2012.  In Southern California, micro-unit developments are now planned Pasadena and the City of Los Angeles, among other jurisdictions.