SAN FRANCISCO, CA (CBS) -- The beauty of San Francisco comes at a price. The city has long been a home to sky-high rentals, now that's leading to a change in the law, allowing construction of the nation's tiniest new apartments.
In a Berkeley, California, warehouse property developer Patrick Kennedy tested his ideas for really tiny apartments.
The design Kennedy calls Smart Space 1.0 turned out not to be not so smart in some ways. One-hundred and sixty six square feet in all, the shower soaked the toilet paper, the stovetop lived in a drawer, and the couch that turned into a bed was too inconvenient. Kennedy says, "An eight foot ceiling is positively claustrophobic in a small space."
Space is at a premium in many big cities, driving up rents. So micro apartments are seen as one possible answer in cities from San Jose and Seattle to New York where Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed a competition for the best design. But nowhere are apartments more expensive than San Francisco where an influx of young tech workers keeps demand high.
So San Francisco is where Patrick Kennedy has built Smart Space 2.0 incorporating lessons learned in his prototype. The four story building has 23 pint-sized pads of 295 square feet.
These tiny apartments cost $1600 a month. The average studio in San Francisco rents for more than $2000.
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener's legislation passed in November lowering the city's minimum apartment size to just 220 square feet. He says, "We're at risk of losing our diversity. It's harder and harder for people who are working class, who aren't learning high incomes to be able to stay here."
The lower rent attracted Terenzia Tervalon. She moved in this week. She says, "I think the size is perfect for me. And it makes it affordable without a roommate. So for me to be able to have my own place, it works for me
Kennedy is so convinced of his vision, he's about to break ground on a 12 story building with 120 tiny dwellings. Kennedy says, "I guess it's a grand experiment to the extent it's the first time a whole building has been dedicated to micro apartments but I think it is going to be the beginning of a much larger movement at least in San Francisco and in other big cities.
Tiny apartments may be the next "Big Thing".