Small-lot developments, which allow multiple, single family homes to be packed into the same lot, have popped up from Echo Park and Silver Lake to Glassell Park and Eagle Rock. But now, in the perhaps the most recent sign of a push back against the current building boom, Councilman Tom LaBonge has proposed updating current guidelines and imposing stricter rules in light of problems and complaints generated by the projects.
“Some of them are pretty ugly,” said Renee Weitzer, Chief of Land Use Planning for Councilman LaBonge, whose Fourth District includes a portion of Silver Lake. “Some are just boxes.”
LaBonge does not want to repeal the small-lot ordinance but constituents from Hollywood, Silver Lake and other communities have been complaining about the developments, Weizer said. A decade after the small-lot development ordinance was adopted, it’s time to update the guidelines, she said. For example, many small-lot developments have been allowed to be constructed up to the sidewalk in neighborhoods where other homes and apartments have been set back a few feet. “That is not compatible with the neighborhood,” she said.
There have also been some unforeseen issues that have come up by packing multiple single-family homes on a lot where one house used to stand. Neighbors have complained about the noise generated by new roof-top terraces and the lack of parking on trash day when new homeowners place multiple sets of bins on the street. Unlike many condo or apartment projects, small lot guidelines do not require private trash pick up.
Part of the problem, said Weitzer, ‘is that the guidelines are policy, but they do not address the issues that result from small lot subdivisions.” There is a need for “real conditions” to be imposed on the projects.
Weitzer said the Planning Department is currently reviewing the small-lot development guidelines but it is not going far enough to deal with the problems. Under LaBonge’s motion, the Planning Department would evaluate and look at possibly changing the underlying ordinance “to ensure that future Small Lot Subdivisions are compatible with the neighborhoods.”
In July, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced a motion that restrict intense residential development in the hills of Echo Park and Silver Lake in response to complaints about small-lot development.