Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance

Contemp issues FALL 2014 - FINAL-PARUM SUIS NO.

While home ownership options are traditionally limited to single-family homes on 5,000 square foot lots, the passage of Los Angeles’ Small Lot Ordinance (No. 176354) in 2005 extended these options to include townhomes, row houses, and other types of infill housing on parcels as small as 600 square feet. Small lot Development permits subdivision of multi-family zoned properties into small single family or townhome style lots by reducing minimum lot size and interior setback requirements, and by eliminating requirements for conventional street frontage and traditional access. The purpose of the Small Lot Ordinance is to enable complete ownership of single family homes in a variety of configurations, provided each structure, from the foundation to the roof, is separate and independent from adjacent structures. Small lot subdivisions provide additional home ownership housing opportunities and increase housing choices within the community.

LA’s Small Lot Ordinance has proven remarkably popular, creating opportunities for a wide range of young developers, innovative design/build firms and small architectural practices. Inspired by the success of LA’s experience, the Glendale Planning Division prepared a Small Lot Ordinance, adapted to Glendale’s unique Zoning Code and historic development patterns.

Glendale’s Small Lot Ordinance aims to revive local neighborhood investment in Glendale’s downzoned multi-family zoned neighborhoods without increasing zoning density. Multi-family downzoning in Glendale has resulted in multi-family neighborhoods comprised of and wide-ranging mix of densities, setbacks and inconsistent development patterns. Reduced allowable densities, high land costs, requirements for subterranean parking, and lending restrictions are factors that have limited new residential construction in Glendale’s multi-family neighborhoods. This is particularly evident in South Glendale where the lack of investment has led to substandard conditions in some areas, leading to a lower quality of life and an increased need for code enforcement. Glendale’s Small Lot Ordinance aims to encourage development of infill lots and preserve units with historic character in order to catalyze neighborhood investment, provide greater housing choice and expand the opportunities for affordable home ownership.

To develop Glendale’s Small Lot Ordinance, City staff collaborated with Woodbury University students through a research course at the School of Architecture. Students researched precedents and condensed them into diagrammatic illustrations and design principles that were incorporated into Glendale’s Small Lot Design Guidelines. Students designed a Small Lot project for a Glendale site based on their research, allowing City staff to address conflicting bureaucratic conditions as imposed by Planning, Building, Fire Departments, and other Agencies.

Glendale’s Small Lot Ordinance is scheduled for adoption following completion of the South Glendale Community Plan in 2018.

As Principal Urban Designer at the City of Glendale, Alan Loomis was Co Project Manager / Team Leader for the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance and Design Guidelines.