Housing units can be smaller to make them truly affordable. A rough rule is that Encinitas rental cost in 2016 is $3-$5 per square foot. If $1000 – $1500/month is available then a small apartment is all that can be afforded.
The typical “illegal” accessory unit in Encinitas fits exactly into this category and as land and construction costs have increased these have become more common.
Such housing is appropriate for young singles or as starter housing for couples saving to buy a bigger home. It may also suit older singles and couples who are downsizing to deal with fixed income.
Small size can make for low cost, with Murphy beds and basic kitchens and all. It helps if such homes are within easy walking distance of bus or train stops and shopping and eating places.
First you need parcels that are zoned for that density. The R-30 of the Draft Proposed Encinitas Housing Element is a start, but if there is a Density Bonus the actual construction could end up as R-45 occupying the same number of square feet.
HCD takes R-30 density as a proxy for affordability while a unit may be “affordable” only if it is smaller. The Draft “Floating Zones” document gives “900 SF max avg.” for apartments up to “1,800 SF max avg.” for duplexes. These might rent for $3 per SF, with 1 or 2 parking spaces per unit proposed in the Draft, and an option to charge extra for parking.
If we are serious about low-cost housing some Micro Units 300-500 SF average must be included. These might rent for around $1200 per month. Keep the cost down. Use laminate countertops and white kitchen appliances. Omit the luxury features. Even a Micro Unit might house a couple, or else one person with a roommate, and in California everybody has a car, so I think at least 1 included parking space per unit is appropriate, with additional free guest parking on site. This looks like what Density Bonus was meant to be.
Does the Draft Proposed Encinitas Housing Element support this trend?
Here are some interesting articles on the subject:
The Urban Land Institute report on Micro Units
Micro Apartments in New York and Other Cities
Pod House Module with Roof Deck, Skylight and Solar Potential
7x7x7 Design in Tokyo
Tiny Home Development in SLO