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Small housing development gaining traction on West Coast

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 6/16/2011

Local governments in Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, Calif., and Kirkland, Wash., have taken steps to promote small housing development, according to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development's case studies clearinghouse.

Portland's Living Smart Program offers permit-ready "skinny home" plans — plans pre-approved by the city council that have already passed life, safety, and structural review — that developers can acquire to build on small, infill lots in the city's neighborhoods.

Los Angeles's Small Lot Ordinance allows subdivision of lots in multifamily or commercial zones for the development of fee-simple, detached, townhouse-style homes. Developers can build several detached units as small as 600 square feet on subdivided lots, without the liability issues and insurance costs associated with a condominium project.

Kirkland conducted a demonstration project and then adopted a cottage housing ordinance to increase housing choice styles and promote housing affordability by encouraging smaller homes. The city allows cottage homes, which can have up to 1,500 square feet of total floor area, in certain existing zoning districts.

Read more and see a photo gallery of some of these innovative homes.