Kudos to DC’s Urban Turf for continuing to cover the state of play with DC microhousing. From today’s article “Is DC Ready for 275-Square Foot Housing?“, it is clear that in some respects DC is far ahead of the country in terms of minimum size regulations. While other cities such as San Francisco contentiously debate lowering minimum residential limits from 290 to 220 ft2, and NYC must waive square footage regulations to test microhousing, the DC limit is already set at 220 ft2. Go DC.
This follows an earlier Urban Turf article (DC Almost Had 275-Square Foot Apartments) that chronicles how close DC was to having micro apartments in Chinatown, which would have put DC ahead of the rest of the country in developing these units. For now, we cede leadership to NYC, where Bloomberg has championed microunits, and where a 60-unit micro-studio building will be going up next summer.
It would seem that an informal poll (Would DC Residents Live in a Micro-Studio?) shows great support for these small housing options. And as one responder noted, “As a landlord in DC, I know I could fill micro-apartments all day.” The article concludes that “Someone needs to take the first step and figure it out…then you’ll see buildings getting carved up into smaller and smaller units.”
Bottom line: though it is far from what is needed, current zoning regulations are being debated to formally allow small housing in backyards and basements (as accessory dwelling units) and empty lots. But when it comes to apartment buildings, there’s less policy work to do. So we hope enlightened DC developers may see the logic (and demand) for micro apartments, and make DC a leader of this urban affordable housing movement.