While there is no authoritative definition of micro apartment, most commentators reserve this label for new multifamily residences with less than 400 square feet of living space. However, given the relative range of unit sizes across municipalities, the term micro apartment is perhaps best saved for efficiency units that are at least 20 percent smaller than the average size in the area. Few communities address micro apartments explicitly in their zoning codes. In fact, many zoning codes make it physically impossible or financially infeasible to build very small efficiency dwelling units.
This edition of Zoning Practice discusses why rising demand for micro apartments may merit zoning changes, and how a small number of cities have amended their codes to add definitions, use permissions, and additional standards to sanction smaller dwelling units than would otherwise be permissible.
About the Author
David Morley, AICP
David Morley, AICP, is a Research Program and QA Manager with the American Planning Association in Chicago, where he manages and contributes to sponsored research projects; manages the development of the Research KnowledgeBase; provides customized research assistance through the Inquiry Answer Service; develops, organizes, and participates in educational sessions and workshops; and writes for APA publications. Mr. Morley also co-edits Zoning Practice, a monthly publication to inform planners about smarter land-use practice, and PAS QuickNotes, a series of briefing papers that explain planning basics for public officials and engaged citizens.