An academic look at unauthorized housing in the Los Angeles area: Interview of Jacob Wegmann by Los Angeles County Planner Jonathan Bell
Planning scholars are now focusing on an area of research that has long been neglected – garage apartments.
While working for Los Angeles County, Jonathan P. Bell has seen firsthand how common place conversions are in the area.
“From 2006 to 2014, I worked as a Los Angeles County Zoning Enforcement planner. During that time I inspected over one thousand informal units (and other zoning violations) across Los Angeles County’s diverse unincorporated communities. Here’s one thing I learned: the garage apartment, developed and occupied stealthily in violation of zoning, building, and health codes, is ubiquitous throughout the L.A. region.”
While the growing interest in research is a positive, one key problem that still remains is the lack of regulation and enforcement where these unauthorized structures are concerned, Bell writes.
“Reality check, fellow planners: while some informal units look nicely built, many others are objectionably substandard, and neither type has been inspected for code compliance. Safety is at the heart of regulation. Planning enforcement is ‘where the rubber meets the road.’”
Bell goes on to detail his interview with UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate Jacob Wegmann, especially about what he learned while gathering information for his doctoral dissertation, entitled “We Just Built It: Code Enforcement, Local Politics, and the Extralegal Housing Market in Southeast Los Angeles County.”
“Due out later this year, the dissertation examines the role of unpermitted units in Los Angeles’ housing market and political economy. Enforcement is core to the study.”
In the article, Bell and Wegmann discuss the role of unpermitted housing units in Los Angeles’ housing market and economy.
Amtrak Ramping Up Infrastructure Projects
Thanks to federal funding from the 2021 infrastructure act, the agency plans to triple its investment in infrastructure improvements and new routes in the next two years.
Ending Downtown San Francisco’s ‘Doom Loop’
A new public space project offers an ambitious vision—so why is the city implementing it at such a small scale?
Proposal Would Transform L.A.’s ‘Freeway to Nowhere’ Into Park, Housing
A never-completed freeway segment could see new life as a mixed-use development with housing, commercial space, and one of the county’s largest parks.
Federal Government Announces National Climate Resilience Framework
The document is designed to guide federal investment into community-driven solutions tailored to local conditions and needs.
How to Build for Aging in Place
Why developers should place more emphasis on building homes for aging residents and multigenerational living.
Bringing Planning Back to the People
Has the profession given in to corporate interests, and is there another way forward?
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Mpact: Mobility, Community, Possibility
City of Helena
Lassen County Planning and Building Services
City of San Carlos
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.