If developers can build three houses on one lot, why not go for six?


By Tony Peyser

I recall a movie in which three strangers had to live in an apartment that would normally have only one tenant. Trouble, as they say, ensues. Why would one, let alone a three of them, put up with such an inconvenience? Because of a little thing historians like to call World War II. It created considerable housing shortages in all kinds of places, like Washington D.C. where the funny and charming “The More the Merrier” from 1943 was set.

Here on the West Coast 70 years later, an address that used to be occupied by one house is now smooshed together to accommodate three. Is there some patriotic motive behind this unfortunate reality? Nah, it’s just due to an even greater motivation known as greed.

In an August news story about locals fuming over multiple housing units going up on small lots in Venice, The Argonaut’s Gary Walker described a space on California Avenue that was once a house and now hasthreetinyidenticalvaguelymodernhousesthatareratherunpleasinglyrightnexttoeachother.

It’s good to learn that people in the area are taking action against construction like this, which changes the character of neighborhoods composed of single-family homes and is even worse than the proverbial McMansions.

This situation has also inspired me to draw a line in the sand with these aggressive developers: you money-grubbers aren’t thinking nearly big enough.

You put three small houses on a one-house lot. Child’s play. Why not  … six? You’d double your investment: high five! Just have a main room with a kitchen, room for a bed, a bathroom and that’s it. Will it seem a little cramped? Yeah, but maybe you can sell it to people who are decidedly short. It’ll seem huge to them. In addition, one of the most popular cars in the country is the Fiat 500, which isn’t exactly big. The owners of these small vehicles will embrace living in these places that are similarly downsized.

After you start building these tiny one-lot “homes” all over the Westside, you outside-the-box developers should branch out into business projects with the same mindset. Build a coffeehouse and maximize profits by putting other businesses into that same space. All those tables and chairs in java joints just invite people to buy one cup of overpriced coffee and lounge around for hours. You can cut down on this if yours also has a dry cleaner in it. Profits will go up with two tenants in a space that previously had one. Yeah, some of those dry cleaning solvents smell awful, but customers will get used to it. OK, you’re on a roll, so now it’s time to for a third business to move in: a tattoo parlor. I know, it’ll be elbow-to-elbow in there, but don’t a lot of café latte lovers have tats? Now they can get a little more arm ink while waiting for the barista to make their espresso macchiato and for their laundry to be ready.

We all know how popular Netflix is, but some people still want to go out to the movies. Developers should put up some theaters, but in the same space how about a company that does a little sandblasting, too? High-pressure abrasive blasting does make a lot of noise, but movies are so freaking loud these days that is anyone really going to notice while they’re texting away?

After the movie’s over, those who attended will head to the parking lot and then off to dinner or home. As they’re waiting to depart, why not license Scientology to man parking lot kiosks to do some personality tests on people trying to pay and leave? Sure, it’s intrusive, but it’s also a novel way to maximize profits. Seventh Day Adventists and Internet service providers will likely also pay for the right to annoy you in your cars. Some of you will get so angry that you’ll try to gun it out of the parking lot to get away, and this will result in some fender benders. Not to worry, though: car insurance salesmen hovering nearby will have paid for the right to rush in and sell you some new policies.

Isn’t the future going to be wonderful?