Small Lot Subdivision Blog

Is Los Angeles Small Lot Subdivision Permitted in a R2 zone?

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 @ 17:10 PM

One of the most common questions we get regarding Los Angeles Small Lot Subdivision is if it is permitted in a R2 zone. In general, the Small Lot Ordinance prohibits small lot projects in the R2 zone, unless the project meets the following strict criteria (excerpt from ordinance):
The dwelling units in the proposed small lot subdivision have a side lot line adjoining a lot in a commercial or industrial zone (meaning it has to be right next to) and
1) The use, including the accessory buildings and uses and required yards, does not extend more than 65 feet from the boundary of the less restrictive zone it adjoins; and
2) The lot area per dwelling unit or guest room regulations of the RD 1.5 zone shall apply to the uses.

So, essentially the R2 lot in question needs to be immediately adjacent to a "C" or "M" zone. As you can imagine, this is a rare occurrence within the city of Los Angeles. The city basically doesn't encourage Small Lot Subdivision in the R2 zone because it's considered too sensitive for a subdivision. This, however, is not to be confused with the RD2 zone, in which Small Lot Subdivision is permitted.

small lot subdivison on RD1.5 zone

The Cullen Street Art District Dwellings, a three-home Small Lot Subdivison by Modative on a RD1.5 zoned lot.

If you'd like to learn which zones and lots work best for Small Lot Subdivision, download Modative's free "How-To" Guide on Developing Small Lot Subdivisions in Los Angeles.

Modative is a Modern Architecture Firm in Los Angeles that specializes in Small Lot Subdivison projects.

Tags: Los Angeles, los angeles architects, Small Lot Subdivision, Development, Subdivisions

Modative to Speak at Small Lot Ordinance Workshop

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 @ 06:03 AM

Small Lot Subdivision Mobile Workshop

Christian and I will be speaking at a mobile workshop on LA's Small Lot Ordinance at the American Planning Association's (APA) National Conference in Los Angeles on Monday, April 16, 2012 from 2:15p.m. to 4:45 pm. Aside from us, the other speakers include many influential players in Small Lot Subdivison in Los Angeles from other architect/developers to City Planners and former Acting Deputy Director of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, and author of the Small Lot Ordinace, Jane Blumenfeld.

One of the great parts about this workshop is that it's mobile. No stuffy conference rooms. We'll be touring small lot subdivision projects in the Silverlake and Echo Park areas and talking about all things small lot subdivision from the perspective of city planners, developers and architects.

Last I heard, 36 of the possible 50 spots are already reserved, so if you're interested, register soon. Here is more information on the Small Lot Ordinance Workshop.


Modative in the LA Times

In other Small Lot Subdivision news, our recently completed Fay 2X Homes were featured in the Los Angeles Times Pro Portfolio. Check it out here - Pro Portfolio: Modative 2X small-lot homes

fay 2x small lot homes

Tags: Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, small homes, Small House, Development, Subdivisions, Fay Ave Art District dwellings

HUD Reports on Los Angeles Small Lot Subdivision

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Dec 6, 2011 @ 09:12 AM

Back in 2010, a representative from HUD (The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) flew from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles to interview Modative, along with a few other key players in Los Angeles's Small lot Subdivision Ordinance. The goal was to create a report (which they did) summarizing the background, goals, guidelines, and potential improvements to the Small Lot Ordinace.

HUD Small Lot Subdivison Los Angeles

HUD's study, which uses images from Modative's Cullen Street Small Lot Subdivison Project.


The report does a great job of outlining the important issues involved in small lot development, from parking to financing and entitlements. It's a great resource for real estate developers, architects, and municipalities looking to impliment similar ordinances. Check out HUD's report on Small Lot Subdivision here.


Los Angeles Architects, Modative, specialize in Small Lot Subdivision projects. For more information on the Small Lot Ordinance, dowload our free informative Small Lot Subdivision Guides.


Tags: Los Angeles, los angeles architects, Small Lot Subdivision, Small House, Development, affordable modern architecture, architecture resources, Affordable Housing

Construction Begins on Cullen Street Homes Small Lot Subdivision

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 @ 16:12 PM

Last week grading wrapped up and construction began on our Cullen Street Homes Small Lot Subdivision project.

small lot homes

When complete, we'd like the project to look like this.


View Larger Map

The project is located in Los Angeles, more specifically, in the heart of the Culver City Art District.

Here are a few photos of the grading process and the start of foundations:

small lot subdivision demo recycle 01

Bricks from the driveway of the old house that was demolished. Over 90% of the salvaged bricks were recycled.

small lot subdivision grading construction 07

The top five feet of soil had to be recompacted to make it suitable for foundations.

small lot subdivision staking construction 06

Once grading was complete, the building foundations were surveyed, staked out and spray painted onto the ground.

small lot subdivision building gap 05

Since the homes are part of a small lot subdivision, they have to be structurally independent, meaning they can't touch. Here's the staked out gap between two of the homes.

small lot subdivision foundations 02

Once all the homes were marked on the site, digging of the foundations began.

small lot subdivision dig foundations

A close up of the foundation dig. The soil was very dense from the recompaction and much of it had to be removed with power tools.

small lot subdivision foundation construction 03

Here the subcontractors are starting the wood form-work for the foundations.

More photos can be found on the Modative Architecture facebook page.

Stay tuned for more updates as construction progresses on the Cullen Street Homes Small Lot Subdivision.

Tags: Los Angeles, los angeles architects, Residential, Small Lot Subdivision, Small House, Cullen Street Homes Construction, Development

Top 10 Things To Know About Los Angeles Small Lot Subdivision

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Jan 7, 2010 @ 07:01 AM

1. Small lot homes are not condominiums. They are fee simple, meaning you own the land the home sits on.

2. Residences on individual lots must have separate foundations and walls.

3. Driveways, walkways and utility access are accomplished through easements.

4. Each subdivided lot may contain up to three residential units.

5. Small lot subdivision projects are required to file a parcel map (four or less units) or a tract map (five or more units) to subdivide the land.

6. Homeowners association is not required. Only a maintenance association is required.

7. Each dwelling is required to have two parking spaces. No guest parking is required for projects under 10 units.

8. All zoning codes (including density) are the same as a standard project. Some breaks are given on setbacks and open space requirements.

9. Because small lot projects are fee simple, they have lower liability and insurance rates than condominiums.

10. The design and entitlements of small lot subdivision projects can be complex. Hiring consultants with experience is recommended.


small lot los angeles

Small Lot Subdivision Diagram

A diagram of some of the Small Lot Subdivision basics.


This Top 10 list and other Small Lot information can be found in our free download - "How-To" Guide on Developing Small Lot Subdivisions in Los Angeles

Tags: Los Angeles, Residential, Small Lot Subdivision, Development, Multi Family Housing

Introduction to Small Lot Subdivision in Los Angeles

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Jan 5, 2010 @ 14:01 PM

To launch the Small Lot Subdivision Blog, I thought we'd offer up a quick introduction into what Small Lot in Los Angeles is all about. Enjoy.

The Small Lot Ordinance

The City of Los Angeles enacted the Small Lot Ordinance (No. 17354) in December of 2004. The ordinance allows the construction of smaller, fee-simple housing in multi-family zones.

Not Your Typical Condo or Townhouse

The residents of a Small-Lot home actually own the land the unit sits on. Since the ordinance does not allow for common foundations or shared, or common, walls between units, there is no Homeowners Association needed or any of the typical fees associated with condominium ownership.

Smaller Lots

The City of Los Angeles is pushing developers and property owners to utilize the Small Lot Ordinance as a smart-growth alternative to the suburban single-family home or typical condominium development. You can create smaller residential lots than previously allowed. It is also now easier to provide a creative alternative to the typical, and often unappealing, condominium unit or overpriced and over-sized single-family residential property.

small lot subdivision intro

Get Something Back

For those willing to take advantage of this new ordinance, the code offers breaks from the usual stringent code requirements. The ordinance  grants reduced setback requirements as well as other breaks on often strenuous site requirements that can severely limit the number of units you are able to develop on the typical multi-family residential lot.

Small Lot Subdivision Architects

This blog is provided by Modative, modern architects in Los Angeles with extensive experience designing and entitling Small Lot Subdivision projects. We also offer free and informative Small Lot Subdivision downloads.

Tags: Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Development, Subdivisions