SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Could you live in 220 square feet? That's smaller than the space inside of some SUVs.
Santa Monica’s biggest developer, WS Communities, recently submitted plans for hundreds of micro apartments in the downtown area. The six buildings contained only studio apartments under 375 square feet.
But the city is pushing back with an all-out ban on micro apartments, also known as SROs, unless they are affordable housing or shelters.
Micro apartments are not new to Southern California, Laury Bird has been living in 275 square feet on 2nd Street near California Avenue for 40 years. While most of us spend our time accumulating junk, Bird finds meaning in winnowing down, restoring the old and perfecting his place.
“I have the last original sink in the building,” Bird said as he showed off his original polished brass door knobs and porcelain accents. Bird is paying just $600 a month to live in the rent-controlled building, about a quarter of what some of his neighbors are paying to live so close to the Third Street Promenade and the beach.
At a recent Santa Monica City Council meeting, a lawyer for WS Communities told the mayor the proposed micro-units will be more affordable than multi-bedroom apartments but would not disclose the anticipated rent for the projects. The developers argue the city’s ban is a violation of AB 352, a state law that prohibits cities from limiting the number of “efficiency units” near public transit.
The city says the recent ban will affect WS Communities’ proposed projects, and that they hope the developer will come back to the table with a mix of apartment styles to allow more families to live near the beach.