The Planning Commission’s Long Range Planning Projects Subcommittee will discuss a proposed zone text amendment at their meeting tonight to define various housing types, develop preliminary design standards, and introduce a mid-stay lease term for residential leases between 31 days and one year for residential or mixed-use projects in commercial zones.
This amendment aims to address West Hollywood’s lack of specific definitions, regulations, and design standards for certain housing types, such as co-living developments, micro-units, and senior congregate care facilities. The Subcommittee continued this discussion from the previous meeting on February 16, 2023, as the City explores ways to update the zoning code to allow for various housing types that can increase affordability in the local housing market.
During the meeting, staff consulted with Planning and Development Services to identify specific issues in permitting the project at 1301 Fairfax Avenue. Two major concerns were the lack of space in private bedrooms, storage, and common areas for the high density of residents, and inadequate planning for operational needs such as necessary janitorial and maintenance facilities, as well as rideshare/food delivery drop-off and pickup zones.
While the City regulates this housing type, it would be ideal for the State to include co-living units (counted by bedrooms) in meeting the City’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation. However, California defines a “dwelling unit” as “a single unit providing complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation.” Therefore, individual bedrooms within co-living developments do not qualify as dwelling units for RHNA, even though they are leased out and occupied independently.
The Planning Commission Long Range Planning Projects Subcommittee recommends that West Hollywood partner with larger cities or the County to pursue this issue. The Subcommittee hopes that West Hollywood can be at the forefront of a movement toward adopting more progressive and affordable housing models.
AB 682, an act to amend Section 65915 of the Government Code relating to housing, was recently adopted by the Governor in 2022. It provides that a “shared housing building” is eligible for a density bonus. A shared housing building is defined as a “residential or mixed-use structure, with five or more shared housing units and one or more common kitchens and dining areas designed for permanent residence of more than 30 days by its tenants.” Additionally, a “shared housing unit” refers to “one or more habitable rooms, not contained within another dwelling unit, that includes a bathroom, sink, refrigerator, and microwave, [and] is used for permanent residence.”
The Planning Commission Long Range Planning Projects Subcommittee seeks feedback on proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance of West Hollywood. These amendments pertain to the addition of various types of housing, including co-living models, micro-units, and senior residential projects, with the aim of increasing the City’s supply of affordable housing.
The proposed co-living model accommodates three or more biologically unrelated people living in the same dwelling unit with shared facilities. To receive a permit for co-living projects, the staff is considering proposing an allowable floor area ratio (FAR) per acre, with development standards that include a minimum of 150 and maximum of 400 square feet for each bedroom, adequate facilities, and a private bathroom for each bedroom. The rental duration is proposed to be one year minimum, and the staff seeks feedback on whether to allow mid-term leases.
The subcommittee seeks input on whether co-living projects above a certain number of units should have 24-hour onsite security and/or management and whether the name of the housing type should be “co-living” or “shared housing” in the Zoning Code.
Micro-units are another type of housing proposed for addition to the Zoning Ordinance. These small residential units range from 250 to 450 square feet and consist of one habitable room in a structure with other similar units. The proposed development standards include a minimum of 300 square feet of common indoor and/or outdoor recreation area per project, and a rental duration of one month minimum.
Senior residential projects are already regulated by the WHMC, with multi-family residential projects reserved for senior citizens. The staff seeks feedback on whether any changes or additions to this regulation are necessary.
Staff proposes that there be no parking minimums per AB 2097, which prohibits cities from imposing minimum parking standards unless the development meets special criteria.
READERS’ LETTERS ON THE TOPIC
Dear Chair Thomas and Subcommittee Members Copeland and Gregoire:
In reviewing documents for tonight’s meeting, I now understand there is a current court case related to some of the very same issues being addressed in the proposed Zone Text Amendment.
It appears the city is embroiled in costly litigation related to the ersatz dormitory-style housing project being proposed for 1301 N. Fairfax (at Fountain). And this was a project recommended by the Planning Commission back in 2021 with little regard for neighborhood concerns or objections!
Before this matter goes further and any recommendations are made by you to the full Planning Commission, let’s take a pause and learn from what’s going on in court first. The community deserves it.
Also, the city council’s June 7, 2021, direction in Attachment A had no direction regarding residential lease terms in new mixed-use developments. The “mid-stay lease” approach being presented tonight smacks of a sneaky ploy to “Air B&B’ize” the city, and I believe this approach is not good for the community. I oppose it and I hope you do too.
–Victor Omelczenko, 21-Year West Hollywood Resident