Contest designers should show bigger is not better
Los Angeles City planners have big plans for small lots. Free money is included, too. This is a noble vision, since it may help more low- to moderate-income families own their own homes. Now the city’s Planning Department, which created the ordinance last year, is partnering with the Enterprise Foundation to infuse new life into substandard parcels. They are sponsoring a “Small Lots, Smart Design” competition in South Los Angeles, a baby step that could spread throughout the city, including the San Fernando Valley. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Builders and architects are being asked to submit a vision for a 6,298-square-foot lot at 624 W. 84th St. owned by Enterprise Home Ownership Partners, a nonprofit group that’s trying to increase affordable housing in the city. Applicants should think big. Ivee Stassi, the competition administrator, said that in its last life, this was the site of a substandard house that was demolished. It no longer will be a place where just one family will live. “What we’re setting is an opportunity for (the contestants) to look at the small lot and then decide how many units can go into that property…maximize the living space as well as the land,” she said. The winner will get paid a design commission and two families will get a home. There likely won’t be any losers, either. Enterprise owns 11 lots like this one in South and East Los Angeles and is planning 92 townhomes. Stassi said she hopes enough good designs are submitted so that her group can put together a catalog other builders can use for small infill projects. Enterprise is looking for designs offering comfortable living spaces both inside and out while putting as many units on a small lot as possible. It’s one small step on the first rung of the economic ladder. Stassi said that the owners of these kinds of homes tend to be blue-collar families of five with an average annual income of $45,000. The home on this lot will probably cost about $325,000. And here is the free money hook. Prospective buyers for any of Enterprise townhomes can apply to a “soft second” mortgage program offered by the city, Stassi said. It can total $90,000 plus 6 percent of the sales price and there are no payments due for 30 years, she said. Buyers must live in the homes for at least three years. Planning department spokesman Jane Blumenfeld said that the small lots concept is gaining traction. Planners and developers meet each Wednesday to discuss how to best use the ordinance and so far about 50 proposals have been considered. “There are a number of South L.A. projects, which has been really great. It’s been hard to get homeownership opportunities in South L.A.” she said. The ordinance enables detached townhouse style structures to be built on land zoned for either commercial or multifamily residences, Blumenfeld noted. Stephen Bock, owner of Calabasas-based D&S Development, which specializes in infill development, says that this is a good idea. He’s probably going to enter the contest, too. He also notes that small lot sizes will reduce land costs, which can help moderate the selling price of these types of units. And it won’t create as dense a feel as condos because the homes won’t share common walls. “Hey, here is something the city is going to do to really help bottom line housing in L.A. because builders will start building these small lot projects;,” he said. More information about the contest can be found at www.smallbutsmart.org. Design applications are due Feb. 28. Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 email@example.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!