Kanye West tried to build 'Star Wars'-inspired domes for the homeless, but LA officials just forced him to tear them down

Kanye West tried to build 'Star Wars'-inspired domes for the homeless, but LA officials just forced him to tear them down
Kanye West tried to build 'Star Wars'-inspired domes for the homeless, but LA officials just forced him to tear them down

Kanye West reportedly did not secure the necessary permits for the futuristic housing project he constructed on his property in Calabasas, California.

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.

A leftover set from a "Star Wars" film in Tozeur, Tunisia. Veronique Debord/Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

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.

Read more: California's homelessness crisis is spiraling out of control. These mayors want to solve it with tiny homes, trailers, and floating apartments.

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."

kanye west ranch 4x3
West's Wyoming ranch includes a restaurant, a saloon, a shooting range, multiple cabins, and horse barns. Agostini/Invision/AP; J. P. King Auction Company

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.

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