CITYSPACES® MicroPAD®

Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.

- Dieter Rams

Frequently Asked Questions

MicroPAD Basics

What is the MicroPAD®?

The MicroPAD® is a 160 square foot fully self-contained residential dwelling, with a private bathroom and kitchenette.  Units are stacked to create buildings up to 12 stories tall.

Is 160 square feet enough?

Our units are about the size of a small, modern hotel room, and are fully functional dwellings with a living area, cooking area, and a private bathroom. The units are larger than many, if not most, existing SRO rooms, and are built to modern seismic and fire safety standards.

Compliance

Does the MicroPAD® comply with Building Codes?

Yes. It meets and exceeds all relevant codes, including, but not limited to:

  • 2013 CALIFORNIA BUILDING CODE (CBC) & SAN FRANCISCO AMENDMENTS
  • 2013 CALIFORNIA MECHANICAL CODE (CMC) & SAN FRANCISCO AMENDMENTS
  • 2013 CALIFORNIA PLUMBING CODE (CPC) & SAN FRANCISCO AMENDMENTS
  • 2013 CALIFORNIA ELECTRICAL CODE & SAN FRANCISCO AMENDMENTS
  • 2013 CALIFORNIA ENERGY CODE
  • 2013 CALIFORNIA FIRE CODE AND SAN FRANCISCO AMENDMENTS
  • ACCESSIBILITY CODE – 2013 CALIFORNIA BUILDING CODE; CHAPTERS 10, 11A, 11B (FAIR HOUSING ACT)
  • 2013 NFPA 72 (NATIONAL FIRE ALARM CODE)
  • 2013 NFPA 13, 14, 24 (INSTALLATION OF FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS)
  • TITLE 19 CALIFORNIA ADMINISTRATION CODE
  • 2013 TITLE 24 CALIFORNIA ADMINISTRATIVE CODE
  • 2013 ADA STANDARDS in common spaces
Does the MicroPAD® comply with Planing and Zoning Codes?

MicroPAD® buildings fall under SF Planning Code for Group Housing/Congregate Residence.   “Group Housing” — with varying density limitations — is either principally-permitted or allowed via the Conditional Use process in all Zoning Districts with the exception of RH-1 (“One-Family”) Districts.   Group Housing, per Sec. 102, Sec. 790.88(b) and Sec. 890.88(b) is defined as follows: “A Residential Use that provides lodging or both meals and lodging, without individual cooking facilities, by prearrangement for a week or more at a time, in a space not defined by this Code as Dwelling Unit.

However, Zoning Administrator Interpretation 209.2(a) Effective Date 10/05 states:
” … Group Housing units (i.e., “bedrooms”) are allowed to have limited kitchen facilities (e.g. “pantries”) with the following specifications: a small counter space, a small under-.counter refrigerator, a small sink, a microwave, and a small two-ring burner. Such limited kitchen facility shall not include any other type of oven, as that would constitute a full kitchen.”

2013 SAN FRANCISCO BUILDING CODE (based upon the 2013 California Building Code)

“Group Housing” is considered a “Congregate Residence” in the Building Code.

A Congregate Residence, per ·chapter 2 “Definitions” is defined as follows:
“Any building or portion thereof that contains facilities for living, sleeping and sanitation, as required by this code, and may include facilities for eating and cooking, for occupancy other than a family. A Congregate Residence may be a shelter, convent, monastery, dormitory, fraternity or sorority house, but does not include jails, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels or lodging houses.”
Assuming that the project is privately funded, then the accessibility requirements of Chapter 11A — rather than Chapter 11 B — apply.

Per Sec. 1102A.1.4 “Building Accessibility – Where Required”, a Congregate Residence is considered a
“Covered Multi-Family Dwelling”. For the purposes of accessibility, it is basically consider a single (big) dwelling unit.

Per Sec. 1128A “Covered (Multi-Family) Dwelling Units”, a Congregate Residence must have an accessible kitchen (only one) per Sec. 1133A “Kitchens” and one bathroom that complies with Sec. 1134A.2 Option 2.
Accordingly, additional “bathrooms” or “bar/pantries” (i.e., limited kitchen facilities) within the individual
“bedrooms” of the Congregate Residence do not have to be fully accessible.

Does the MicroPAD® meet accessibility requirements per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA)?

Yes. MicroPAD® buildings meet all ADA and FHA accessibility requirements. There are two versions of the MicroPAD®, one of which is 100% accessible with a roll-in shower and other special features for accessibility.  ADA/FHA typically requires 5% of units are fully accessible, as shown in drawing.  But Panoramic can increase that percentage to whatever level a client requires.

Construction

Why Steel modular?

Steel modular units are stronger, easier to build, and more economical than traditional construction. In addition, steel modular units isolate and control:

  • Flooding: built-in secondary drain to contain plumbing mishaps
  • Fire: 2-hour fire ratings and fully sprinklered
  • Odors: 24/7 fresh air exchange & ventilation
  • Insects: steel demising walls prevent spread of pests
  • Noise: Double-wall construction & air spaces between units provide engineered soundproofing
Are there examples of steel modular construction elsewhere?

Yes, there have been over 20,000 hotel rooms built worldwide using this same technology.

Can the MicroPAD® modules be moved from site to site?

Yes, technically. But it is not cheap. MicroPAD® units are permanent housing, comparable to site-built structures, but they can be moved.

How fast can MicroPAD® buildings be built?

We can build these projects 40%-50% quicker than a site-built project. As the contractor does the excavation, utilities, and foundation work, the factory fabricates, inspects, tests then ships the units. The building is then assembled on-site over a period of 4-8 months, depending on building size.

Who inspects the MicroPAD® for quality assurance and code compliance?

American inspection firms, present in the factory, verify and test all aspects of construction. The State of California Housing and Community Development department pre-approves building plans and specifications, and certifies compliance.

Where are the MicroPAD® units manufactured?

We are working with factories in the US, Europe and Asia. We have previously developed factory-built housing using a factory in Sacramento.

Who will pay to build these?

Panoramic Interests. We take all the financial risk associated with building these projects. Once the building is complete, we deliver turn-key, fully furnished MicroPAD® units to the city or county.

Are these environmentally friendly?

Yes. Our last prefab project, 38 Harriet, was LEED Platinum. Factory built housing typically produces much less waste than traditional construction.

Are these safe during earthquakes?

Yes. The MicroPAD® exceeds seismic requirements as detailed by the CA Building Code and the International Building Code.

What is the difference between steel modular and site-built housing?

The major components of a modular building are built in a factory, under controlled conditions that improve quality and accelerate production. The modules are then trucked to the building site where they are stacked.

Who assembles the MicroPAD® units once they arrive on-site?

A general contractor with the usual roster of subcontractors. At least ⅔ of the construction costs are spent for on-site work, with local contractors. We have used Pankow, a union contractor, for our last 2 developments in San Francisco, and plan to use them on our next MicroPAD® project.

Other

Can these house people other than the formerly homeless?

Sure, we feel that the quality and durability make them suitable for housing anyone.

Can I buy a MicroPAD®?

No, we aren’t planning on selling the units individually. We are building these for the homeless.

How will the MicroPAD® buildings be leased?

Panoramic will construct the building at its cost, then rent the entire building to the city or county, on a master lease. The City or County (or its property manager) would select the residents.

Can the City or County buy the building once it is constructed?

Yes, the master lease may include an option for the City or County to buy the building.

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you are a landowner or municipality who wants to partner with us, please click here to contact us.