Santa Monica squashes market-rate micro-unit projects…for now

The city’s temporary ban would affect 6 WS Communities projects in the works

Santa Monica put an emergency hold on market-rate micro units
Santa Monica put an emergency hold on market-rate micro units

Santa Monica city leaders have placed an immediate hold on the construction of market-rate studio apartments smaller than 375 square feet, as they grapple with a sudden influx set for downtown.

The 45-day ban on “single-room occupancy” units is in effect until May 10, Curbed reported. In that time, officials plan to create a permanent measure to address the recent wave of tiny units. The measure would affect several developments that WS Communities is planning.

The micro apartments are one way the city is trying to increase density and affordability near public transportation for students or recent graduates. Santa Monica offers incentives for developers who build the micro apartments provided all of the apartments are designated as affordable.

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But developer WS Communities — led by former NMS Properties’ Scott Walter — filed plans to build 363 micro units in six projects in Santa Monica. The plan is for 95 percent of the units to be market-rate. One of the firm’s buildings on Lincoln Boulevard lists 340-square-foot units for $2,915 a month.

WS Communities said the planned units account for just 15 percent of all unit types that have been proposed or approved or are under construction downtown.

The ban comes as Santa Monica continues to impose more regulations on apartments in the city. It has been battling with Airbnb for years over home-sharing, and recently won another round in court, protecting its existing strict ordinance. [Curbed]Gregory Cornfield