Project History

The homeless population in Los Angeles County has been increasing at an alarming rate over the last five years. In 2017, homelessness escalated by 23%. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, steadily rising housing costs and stagnant incomes are the underlying cause, with the highest economic stress falling on renters.

In 2016, in response to this humanitarian crisis, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors launched the Homeless Initiative, a comprehensive plan that includes 47 interlocking strategies. Strategy F, Increase Affordable/ Homeless Housing includes Strategy F4, Development of Second Dwelling Unit Pilot Program. In support of the Homeless Initiative Strategy F4, LA County is currently updating its Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance to address new opportunities for secondary housing units in single family lots for family use or rental.

Project Goals

Part of the Solution: Yes to ADU stems from the Art Commission Civic Art Program’s work in partnership with the Homeless Initiative, Department of Regional Planning and the Community Development Commission on the Second Dwelling Unit Pilot Program. The role of Civic Art has been to catalyze the community of architects, designers, planners and creative strategists to re-imagine the potential of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) as a housing typology that works in conjunction with other strategies to help alleviate LA County’s housing pressure.

Yes to ADU is structured in two phases:

  • a design competition
  • an exhibition with topical events facilitated by community partners

The competition, launched in September 2017, was open to architects, engineers, designers, artists and/ or students where at least one key member was required to reside, work, study or teach in Los Angeles County. The competition was free of charge.

Phase One—Design Competition

In January, 2018, a jury of architects, policy makers, educators and arts professionals reviewed design competition entries and made anonymous selections for a $12,000 First Prize, two $6,000 Second Prizes and two Honorable Mentions. The jury also made recommendations for competition boards to be included in an exhibition.

The Jury/ Advisers for Design Competition and Exhibition included:

  • Dana Cuff, Director, cityLAB, UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design
  • Milton Curry, Dean, USC School of Architecture
  • Renee Dake Wilson, Principal, Dake Wilson Architects; VP LA City Planning
  • Hsinming Fung, Principal, Hodgetts + Fung; Director of International Programs SCI-Arc
  • Bettina Korek, Founder, ForYourArt & LA County Arts Commissioner
  • Christoph Korner, Cofounder GRAFT; Chair Interior Architecture, Woodbury University
  • Brenda Levin, Principal, Levin & Associates Architects
  • Jon Sanabria, Deputy Director, Department of Regional Planning
  • Geoffrey Siebens, Assistant Director, Community Development Commission

Phase Two—Events & Exhibitions

With proposals submitted by architects throughout LA County, representing a range of backgrounds and experiences from students to established practitioners, the competition assembled a tangible index of possibilities that can help policy makers, architects and home owners implement ADUs in their communities.

Join us for the following series of YES to ADU events and exhibitions:


The LA County Arts Commission would like to thank our community partner, Bustler for supporting the ADU project.