An embarrassing admission (about zoning… calm down)


I have been helping a client who is looking at buying a small piece of land to potentially develop.

The lot is roughly 8,500 sq ft and zoned R2.

I reviewed my trusty Los Angeles zoning summary, found the R2 row, looked over to the sq ft per unit column, saw “2,500” and figured you could build three units on the lot (8,500 / 2,500 = 3.4, round down). On that basis, the lot looked cheap.

Thankfully, my client agreed to hire an architect, Matthew Royce, to take a look at the lot and determine what we might be able to build on it.

Matthew very gently and kindly informed me that, in R2, you can only build two dwellings (unless you’re next to commercial zoning, which we’re not), regardless of the size of the lot. (Matthew also helped us get a sense for the challenges / costs inherent in building on a lot with the kind of topography this one has… it ain’t an easy project.)

Fortunately, we can cancel with no problem. But I wanted to make sure that you, my loyal readers, do not make the same stupid mistake that I nearly made on this deal.

Hat tip to the client and to Matthew for staving off what would have been a Moses-caused disaster.

And, to all of you: Don’t assume. Do your diligence.