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Cityscape: Volume 17 Number 1 | Article 9


Affordable, Accessible, Efficient Communities

Volume 17, Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Looking Through the Lens of Size: Land Use Regulations and Micro-Apartments in San Francisco

C.J. Gabbe
University of California, Los Angeles


Small studio apartments, or micro-apartments, represent a market response to high housing costs in several major American cities. San Francisco, California, is one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets and the location of an innovative pilot microapartment policy. The literature on regulatory barriers to affordable housing has yet to pay much attention to minimum unit-size requirements. This article uses two prototype buildings to illustrate regulatory barriers to smaller units, including minimum parking standards in some parts of the city, outdoor open-space and indoor common-space provisions, unit-mix stipulations, and inclusionary zoning requirements. I recommend that cities review their codes through the lens of unit size and eliminate unnecessary impediments to small units.

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