High tech parking is a gamechanger for LA real estate

Hytone tower parking system
A photo of an automated parking hytone puzzle system
Automated parking puzzle system

Los Angeles remains one of the hottest real estate development markets in the country. However, this has also put a larger strain on an already prevalent parking problem. In fact, according to a recent UCLA study, 30% of traffic in Los Angeles is a result of people looking for parking in highly congested areas. The study also found that approximately 4.2 million tons of extra CO2 are released as a result.

This innovative automated approach to parking not only alleviates issues with space but also keeps up with the pace of technology in an ever-growing automated world.

What is automated parking?

For developers aiming to build in already full urban centers, automated parking is a game changer. One of its biggest benefits is that the systems require less space than that of a traditional structure. This allows developers to build more rentable square footage while maintaining adequate capacity for cars.

There are three main types of automated parking systems: Bi directional, tower automated, and puzzle. Each of these system types are developed to best fit the property layout and size.

A picture of a Bi-Directional automated parking hytone parking system
A bi-directional automated parking system for a large development property

Automated parking creates accessibility where there was none. Land that was less profitable due to space constraints is suddenly more valuable. Additionally, automated parking cuts down car retrieval time and gives patrons a streamlined parking experience. This is truly the wave of the future.

California Agrihoods

California Agrihoods

Original Blog by Jesamine D.

When people think of California, some often think of celebrities, hipsters, Hollywood, the beach, the traffic and all the vegan yoga teachers that fill the city. While many of these stereotypes may be true, California serves as one of the leading environmentally-friendly states in the nation. A prime example is the rise of local Agrihoods.

Farm to Table Freshness

Though California has a green thumb, the state is taking another step up. To accommodate the housing crisis, as well as serve the environment, developers have established agricultural neighborhoods, or “Agrihoods.” These communities bring together farmland and housing, allowing residents to achieve farm fresh food just steps away from their home.

Luxurious Walden Monterey

A new, luxury Agrihood community called Walden Monterey hopes to attract nearby Silicon Valley residents. Each home in this 22 lot Agrihood will cost around $5 million and provide 20 acres of land. Walden Monterey hopes to attract these wealthy Silicon Valley locals for a peaceful transition when coming home from staring at a computer screen all day. Nick Jekogian, the site’s developer, initially thought of taking the land and creating a golf course. After spending the night in a tent on the land, his motive changed. What were tracks for golf carts, will now be used for dog parks and amenities. Golf posts will be turned into homes and acres of potential room for farmland. This is to provide those with a farm-to-table diet.

Millennial Investors

By combining the amenities of rural farming and modern living, millennials have been fleeing to these Agrihoods. The Ranch at Rancho Mission Viejo, however, is attracting these hipster millennials. Developers initially hoped to create a vibrant and creative way to bring together an engaging community. Since millennials contribute a large percent to today’s new homebuyers, this Agrihood in particular seems to serve all interest. Once completed, the Agrihood will provide 6,000 acres of homes, as well as over 17,000 acres full of natural habitat reserve.

Agrihoods Across the U.S.

While California is no stranger to community gardens, urban agriculture or co-housing, other states have been taking action as well.

    Serenbe, an agrihood in Atlanta, has accommodated locals with a lush community. The natural setting of Serenbe offers green wetland, watershed areas, as well as sloping hills that border the community. The Agrihood offers 1,000 acres of housing, farmland, is 30 minutes from the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and even includes 3 on-site restaurants.

    • Another great example is Vermont’s own South Village. The 4-acre organic farm sets apart from other communities as it also provides its own carbon-free electricity. This is done by utilizing a 528-panel photovoltaic solar array. In addition, South Village residents can cycle across the designated pathways, go cross-country skiing and browse through the community gardens.

    •Lastly, we come across the South Shore of Kaua’i. Here, we find the agrihood of Kukui’ula. This Hawaiian paradise stretches over 20 acres and sits beside a peaceful lake. Here, locals can dig into their roots by cultivating bananas, papayas, chard, citrus, herbs, pineapple, arugula and much more!

Original Blog by Jesamine D.

Costa Hawkins and Voting NO on Prop 10

Activists disappointed after an Assembly committee blocked a bill to
lift statewide restrictions on types rent control demonstrate in
California’s Capitol on Thursday. (Katy Murphy - Bay Area News Group)
source: mercury news

Costa Hawkins and Voting NO on Prop 10

In 1995, California passed a statute allowing landlords to charge “market” rent whenever a new tenant enters a lease. The Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act permits this rent alteration, just as long as written notice is properly given. Though the Rent Adjustment Commission hasn’t reported more than 5% of rent increase since 1985, rent prices would still increase anywhere from 3-5%. This includes potential increase in single-family homes, most condominiums and multi-family rental units that were built after 1995.

Los Angeles Housing Crisis

A large amount of Los Angeles residents spend more than half of their income on rent. With housing rates this extreme, it’s now evident why one in four LA residents are living in poverty. Unfortunately, the Act only increases the risk in Los Angeles’ current housing crisis. Though the need for affordable housing is apparent, the Act severely impacted a 2009 court decision,which would’ve required developers to include affordable housing units in their resident projects.

Restoring Affordable Housing

The Court responded by stating Los Angeles’ violated the Costa Hawkins Act by allowing lower rent rates for newly constructed units. In contrast of this, Governor Jerry Brown (thankfully) signed a bill that restored the permission to pursue building affordable units in new rental developments.

Pursuing Low-Income Residential Projects

While the demand for affordable housing continues to grow, new housing developments are increasing at an even slower pace. This sufficient lack leaves California’s rate of new housing projects short of demand. Even for homeowners who are subleasing even a single room in their residence, they may still be subject to increases in their rent. Though repealing an act will take time to display results, it all starts with a “no.”

What is Prop 10?

Prop 10 is a statute that was presented to California courts when determining whether local governments should step into place for adopting rent control ordinances. The proposition would repeal the Costa Hawkins Act, reversing many of its requirements. In addition, the proposition includes flaws such as not increase housing for affordable spending, will not force local communities to build affordable housing and finally, the prop will not provide any instant relief for those facing higher housing rates.

“NO” on Prop. 10

When getting your ballot in the mail, it’s important to understand what each prop represents before voting. For example, prop 10 provide doesn’t provide protection for renters, seniors, veterans, the disabled, nor does the prop provide affordable housing or rent rollbacks, either. Overall, renters will immediately feel the effects of prop 10’s harmful output. Having such in effect will cause landlords to convert their apartments into potential condominiums, increasing rent prices and vacation opportunities. This will push many of California’s renters in a state of “where do I go now?” To better our community, we can stop this reduction of affordable and middle-class housing by voting “no” on prop 10.

Original Blog by Jesamine D.

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A Beginner’s Guide to TOC


TOC Apartments in North Santa Fe, by Community Housing Works (CHW)

Discussing Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC)

Living in Los Angeles has its ups and downs. For one, anyone who is a Los Angeles native knows all about the frequent congestion in traffic. When sitting at a complete standstill on the freeway, we’ve all often thought, “where did all these people come from?” Moreover, “where do all these people live?” As California keeps growing, the need for proper housing accommodations keeps rising. Given this urgency, the city of Los Angeles has passed an ordinance to benefit residential developers in an effort to provide more housing for all.


Overall, the ordinance gives developers the opportunity to create a much larger-scale project than what is normally allowed. The underlying hope is to build more affordable housing in close proximity to major transit stops so that there will be a lesser need for Angelinos to rely on their cars for traversing the city. This opportunity should push investors to build these larger projects, all while benefiting the community’s current affordable housing need. Every lot within a TOC Affordable Housing Incentive Area will be determined by the shortest distance between any point on the lot and the major transit stop. In addition, the developer has a responsibility to provide documentation which states their desired project is within a TOC-permitted area. Development of the residency will take effect once the city has given its approval.

TOC Incentive Requirements

In order to completely satisfy Los Angeles’ ordinance requirements, several qualifying factors must be met. These are the nuts and bolts of getting a TOC project approved by the city:

1. On-Site Affordable Housing – Every tier will have On-Site Restricted Affordable Housing, as determined by the Housing Development. The minimum number of affordable units will be determined by the overall number of units in the final project. These On-Site Affordable Housing Units will be available at the below percentage rates:

Tier 1

    1. : 8% of these units should be available to those of the Extremely Low Income (ELI) households, or 11% of these units for Very Low-Income households, or 20% of the units for Lower Income households.

Tier 2

    1. : 9% for the Extremely Low-Income households, or 12% for Very Low-Income households, or 21% for Low Income households.

Tier 3

    1. : 10% for the Extremely Low-Income households, 14% for Very Low-Income households, or 23% for Lower-Income households; and

Tier 4

    : 11% for Extremely Low-Income Households, 15% Very Low-Income households, or 25% for Lower-Income households.

2. One-Half Mile from Major Transit Stop – This is perhaps one of the most crucial elements when planning a development with TOC-supplied incentives. Each residential project must be within 2,640 square feet from a major transit stop. When referring to bus stops, such development must be within at least two major bus stops. This does not include bus stops along the same road, as it must be perpendicular.

TOC Tier, TOC Guidelines, TOC, TOC Los Angeles

TOC guidelines by City of Los Angeles

3. Housing Replacement – In order for the development to be effective, such must be able to fulfill the applicable housing replacement requirements set forth by the California Government Code Section 65915(c)(3). In addition, prior to obtaining the building permit, the Department of Housing and Community Investment must first verify you meet the affordable housing replacement needs.
4. Density and Development Bonus Restrictions – Under the California Government Code Section 65915, the housing development under TOC compliance is not permitted to receive other density or development bonuses. This includes restriction from any other State or local programs that typically provide such development incentives. Lastly, these restrictions apply to bonuses or incentives that would grant additional units through a General Plan Amendment, Zone Change, or Height District Change. Affordable housing development bonuses within a Transit Neighborhood Plan, Specific Plan, overlay district, or Community Plan Implementation Overlay (CPIO), will not be permitted to request nor obtain, either.

5. Base and Additional Incentives – Housing Developments involved with the TOC ordinance are able to receive Base Incentives, or “Base Units,” which are the maximum allowed density for its zoning. On-Site Restricted Affordable Housing Units may also be applicable to the affordable housing units in its section. For more detailed information on the allowable incentives, please refer to the city of Los Angeles’ TOC Guidelines.

6. Projects Adhering to Labor Standards – For projects that have accommodated the required labor standards, the grant of two additional incentives (or a total of five incentives) may be permitted.
7. 100% Affordable Housing Developments – An increase in tier will be permitted to Eligible Housing Development buildings that contain 100% On-Site Affordable Housing Units.

TOC Tiers

The incentives offered to developers increases dependant upon how close, or hor how far a parcel is from a particular type of transit. The specifics are detailed in the chart above. Closer proximity will put a project in a higher tier, thus allowing for the development of a larger, more dense structure. When exploring your options for a TOC project, it’s important to understand what tier specifications are available. In order for your development to build efficiently, it’s important to set your project in an R3 tier (at minimum). Though R4 tiers are preferred, establishing such in any Tier 4 may be nearly impossible. The higher the Tier the better. Tier 3’s may be of great benefit to developers, especially given this factor will allow a maximum of 0.5 spaces per unit, regardless of bedroom count.

There are two main base incentives that have the largest impact on the size and scope of a TOC project. They are an increase in the number of dwelling units (density), and and increase in the buildable square footage (floor area ratio, or, FAR). Once you break it down, it may look like this:

    1. Tier 1 – 50% increase in density / 40% increase in FAR
    1. Tier 2 – 60% increase in density / 45% increase in FAR
    1. Tier 3 – 70% increase in density / 50% increase in FAR
    Tier 4 – 80% increase in density / 55% increase in FAR

In-Lieu Fee

For developers to begin executing the TOC residency, they must build units off-site or on-site, obtain and preserve at-risk (affordable) properties, or pay an in-lieu fee. As stated in Measure JJJ, the in-lieu fee would be 1.1 multiplied by the number of units provided by the developer, then multiplied by the region’s “affordability gap.” The development’s number of bedrooms and other underlying factors must coincide with the in-lieu fees the project. Such in-lieu fees would consist of the following:


    1. per studio unit


    1. per one-bedroom unit


    1. per two-bedroom unit


    per three-bedroom unit

The above fees in-lieu pertain to 5% of units that are designated for extremely low-income and low-income households, thus granting the lower fee amount. In contrast, for projects that are being executed in regions where residential use was not previously permitted, the in-lieu fees are as follows:


    1. per studio unit


    1. per one-bedroom unit


    1. per two-bedroom unit


    per three-bedroom unit

Los Angeles Transit-Oriented Communities

Overall, investors and developers in Los Angeles should be aware of the city’s great incentive. Los Angeles itself is a city that keeps growing and growing. With the extreme housing need filling our community, it’s important developers consider a residential project that will not only benefit their development, but benefit the community, as well.

Original Blog by Jesamine D.

For any questions you may have, or for assistance in planning your TOC project, contact us immediately – we’re here to help.

City Officials Make Plans to Reevaluate Parking Minimums

Jaymantri | Pexels

Jaymantri | Pexels

As a multi-family and mixed use developer, getting the most units out of your project is your number one goal. Being able to fully maximize your space and increase income revenue is an important aspect to consider when developing your architectural plans. One of the sources of wasted space, especially for smaller developments, are parking minimums. Developers must now reserve space for parking cutting into potential unit space. Read more

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