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The City of Long Beach, California, has a big idea for addressing its rental housing shortage – and it involves thinking small.

According to the Long Beach Post, proposals on multiple projects that would result in more than 300 “micro-apartments” are now underway after the Long Beach City Council voted last year to approve a pilot program encouraging the creation of smaller-than-usual residential units. Some of these apartments can be as small as 220 square feet – to accommodate that compact size, the units are within complexes are primarily private bedrooms, with kitchens and living spaces shared by tenants in common areas.

To give these complexes a greater sense of livability, amenities would include fitness centers, bicycle parking, rooftop decks, and in-unit washers and dryers.

The new program allows units as small as 220-square-feet to be built in Midtown and Downtown Long Beach.

Derek Burnham, a former Long Beach city planner who is now a consultant and a partner in a development firm, saw the concept as a win-win situation for the city and residents.

“What we’re seeing now is sort of a shortage of sites for that size and scale of development, and that’s why we’re seeing this type of innovation – it works on smaller lots,” he said.

Dean Zander, executive vice president at the real estate firm CBRE, saw the concept as an example of private sector ingenuity.

“It’s really all about affordability,” he said. “The best way to make the housing affordable without using government interference or programs is to make (the units) smaller.”

Photo: Artist’s rendering of a proposed micro-apartment project. Courtesy of CityFabrick and Harbor Vista Partners.