- Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
- Kanye West constructed four “Star Wars”-inspired structures on his property in Calabasas, California, which were intended to house the homeless.
- The dwellings were supposed to be temporary prototypes, but a Los Angeles county inspector said they looked permanent.
- Instead of securing the necessary permits, West opted to tear the homes down.
- West recently purchased a $14 million ranch in Wyoming, which could give him more space and fewer regulations if he were to attempt a similar project there.
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Kanye West learned a big lesson about affordable-housing development last week: You can’t bypass a permit.
Four dome structures were recently torn down on West’s 300-acre property in Calabasas, California, TMZ reported. The structures, designed as prototypes for homeless housing, came out of an architecture initiative called Yeezy Home – part of the rapper turned entrepreneur’s design empire, Yeezy.
Images of the domes, first published by TMZ, showed a collection of futuristic mounds covered by a tidy grid of wooden slats. The domes were inspired by “Star Wars,” specifically the settlements on the desert planet of Tatooine. That fictional planet’s eponym is Tataouine, a city in Tunisia with sand-colored dwellings that resemble stacked caves.
In July, construction on West’s housing prototypes in Calabasas grew loud enough that neighbors complained to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. That led county officials to discover that West had not secured the proper permits to build the domes on his land.
TMZ reported that West’s homes were supposed to be temporary structures (they’re prototypes, after all), but a Los Angeles county inspector took issue with the fact that they were built on a concrete base, which signaled that they could be permanent.
The Department of Public Works gave the rapper 45 days to either acquire the necessary permits or tear the homes down. About a week before the deadline, three of the prototypes had been demolished.
West’s plan to become a major developer could have better luck in Wyoming
West has expressed a desire to someday develop entire cities.
“I’m going to be one of the biggest real-estate developers of all time, like what Howard Hughes was to aircrafts and what Henry Ford was to cars,” West said in an interview with the radio and television personality Charlamagne Tha God. “I’m tired of the McMansions, all the Spanish roof homes and stuff like that.”
In Los Angeles, there’s certainly a need for more affordable housing. The city has more than 36,000 homeless residents, a 16% increase since 2018. But the number of housing permits awarded by the city is expected to drop by 12% from 2018 to 2019.
Most of Los Angeles’ residential land is still zoned for single-family properties, which restricts the amount of land available for new affordable housing.
Mayor Eric Garcetti has even encountered obstacles in his efforts to help homeowners install accessory dwelling units for the homeless in their backyards – he previously told Business Insider that construction costs could be prohibitively high.
Should West choose to rebuild the domes or create new ones, he may have better luck in Wyoming, where he recently purchased a $14 million ranch that spans about 3,000 acres.
With fewer than 650 homeless residents, Wyoming doesn’t have the same pressing need for new affordable housing, but it could be more amenable to new construction. The state’s number of residential building permits rose nearly 12% from 2016 to 2017 (the last year for which data was available).
There’s also a lower chance neighbors will complain about noisy construction.