A new high-density single-family home development in Washington State. Photo by Wenzlau Architects via Department of Housing and Urban Development

A bill by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath that would encourage development of “starter homes” of 1,750-square-feet or less in urban areas is making its way through the California Legislature.

The Encinitas Democrat’s legislation would facilitate construction of affordable-by-design, single-family homes on multi-family lots while retaining community character. 

“We can all agree that California urgently needs to address the housing crisis, and central to achieving that goal should be creative solutions like this one,” said Boerner Horvath.

“By creating an alternative to McMansions, luxury condos and high-rise apartments, we can fill the “missing middle” in our housing supply with starter homes so young families have a shot at living in the place they call home,” she said.

Assembly Bill 803 would eliminate minimum lot sizes to allow development of single-family homes of 1,750 square feet or less on sites of 5 acres or less that are zoned for multi-family housing. Such developments are sometimes referred to as “cottage courts.”

“Small lot homes are exactly what is needed for middle income families and first-time homebuyers,” said Brett Farrow, an architect and supporter of the bill. “Because they’ll mostly be in existing developed areas, these homes will help us move away from sprawl development and the sorts of long commutes that drive greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Boerner Horvath noted that only 27% of households in California are currently able to afford a middle-market home, as compared to 55% nationwide. 

AB 803 passed in the Assembly on May 20 and is now under consideration in the state Senate.

Show comments

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.