Following a court order to remove existing impediments that restrict the creation of affordable housing, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission approved a draft accessory dwelling unit ordinance for Los Angeles on Thursday, December 16, 2016. The draft ordinance will proceed to the Los Angeles Planning and Land Use (PLUM) Committee and then to the Los Angeles City Council for adoption. The new ordinance is expected to be in place January 1, 2017.

What will this mean to tiny houses? It wasn’t clear to me, so I attended this meeting and asked for clarification of the language in the draft ordinance, particularly where ADUs can be located. I also made a statement against including minimum size requirements in the draft ordinance.

Language in the draft ordinance that has to do with where ADUs can be permitted is vague. For example, “Accessory Dwelling Units are allowed in all zones wherein residential uses are permitted by right” is so radically different from the highly restrictive policy it replaces. I read through the Department of City Planning Recommendation Report dated December 15, 2016 (herein after referred to as “the Report”) and am only slightly more clear. A private discussion among attendees and at least one lawyer for the City on the steps of Building and Safety immediately following the hearing confirmed ADUs will be accepted in all residential neighborhoods with two exceptions. However, the general population would benefit from expanded language in the draft ordinance to inform that ADU policy in Los Angeles has, indeed, been radically amended.

As for size, it appears there could be a minimum size for ADUs as the draft evolves. We need to continue to advocate and to be vigilant as this draft ordinance progresses through policy ranks. Language in the Report like “the City may not require an ADU of less than 640 sq. ft.” and “Detached ADUs are eligible for a minimum of 640 square feet…” and “The 640 square foot minimum…” is misleading since there is no reference to minimum size in the draft ordinance.

Overall, I found the whole experience a little intimidating. Nevertheless, I took the day off work, braved a very aggressive panel and added my voice in support of something I feel is important to my community and to the advancement of tiny houses. I urge everyone to be proactive within their own communities.

Update: Here is a comparison chart between the “old” and the “new” Ordinance that may help to clarify issues of compliance: