Residents in some single-family neighborhoods fear that second units on single properties would change the character of their neighborhood.

“Granny flats”, or second home units located on a single-family lot, create an opportunity for expanded affordable housing options in large and expensive cities – but they’re running into legal and local resistance, according to The Washington Post’s Emily Badger.

In Los Angeles, in particular, a California state law permits the construction of second units – but a recently-enforced city ordinance limits their size and location. This has left many LA second homes in legal limbo, either unfinished or without utilities. In addition, many neighbors protest the possibility of more second homes on single-family lots, citing the need to preserve the character of their community.

Los Angeles is considering changes to its current ordinance, and the mayors’ office is planning a pair of prototype second homes for demonstration purposes.

“We are determined to add needed units to communities without changing the look and feel of our neighborhoods,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who wants to remove more barriers to second units. “The extra rental income could make the difference for a potential homeowner between affording a mortgage or not.”

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