HURDLE RISING FOR SMALL-LOT MANSIONS ORDINANCE: COUNCIL PANELISTS AIM TO LIMIT OVERSHADOWING OF HOMES BY NEW CONSTRUCTION.Byline: Kerry Cavanaugh
After nearly three years of debate, a Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. city panel gave tentative approval Tuesday to the first citywide ordinance aimed at stopping people from building big, bulky houses on small residential lots.
The proposed law approved by the City Council's planning committee planning committee n (in local government) → comité m de planificación attempts to quell quell
tr.v. quelled, quell·ing, quells
1. To put down forcibly; suppress: Police quelled the riot.
2. the heated community battles that have flared between property owners who say they have a right to construct large homes and their neighbors who want to preserve classic smaller-home styles.
Yet the law is still weeks -- even months -- away from adoption as some council members are worried that limiting home sizes could shrink property values and the city's revenue from property taxes.
"I'm interested in the impact on city coffers -- if there is a decline in revenue," said Councilman Jose Huizar.
Huizar and Councilman Jack Weiss Jack Weiss, is a member of the Los Angeles City Council representing the 5th district. Weiss was elected in 2001 and reelected in 2005. The 5th district includes parts of the Westside and the San Fernando Valley. have asked city staff members to prepare a report analyzing whether municipal government could lose money if the ordinance blocks construction of more expensive homes.
But Councilman Tom LaBonge Tom LaBonge (b. Los Angeles 1953), member of the Los Angeles City Council representing the 4th district. He has served since 2001, taking over the position upon the death of John Ferraro. , who proposed the mansionization ordinance, questioned whether the city would lose any property-tax revenue.
"There will be a big financial impact if neighborhoods in Los Angeles aren't as special as they are now," LaBonge said.
"It's the neighborhoods of L.A. that make it special. ... We could lose the neighborhoods if we don't protect their character."
Planning Department staffers also said the law shouldn't have a significant effect on revenue because more than 70percent of the new homes built in recent years would have been allowed under the ordinance.
And that's one of the major complaints about the proposed ordinance: It doesn't really stop mansionization.
"The proposed ordinance is better than nothing, but it's inadequate," said Shelley Wagers, who lives in Beverly Grove, where homeowners would still be able to double the size of a home and overshadow o·ver·shad·ow
tr.v. o·ver·shad·owed, o·ver·shad·ow·ing, o·ver·shad·ows
1. To cast a shadow over; darken or obscure.
2. To make insignificant by comparison; dominate. their neighbors.
Under the proposal, she said, a property owner still could tear down a 2,100-square-foot home on a 6,000-square-foot lot and build a 4,100- square-foot home.
"That is not consistent with the character and scale of our neighborhood," Wagers said.
Principal City Planner Betsy Weisman acknowledged that the ordinance is a compromise.
"It was always intended to strike a balance between property owners who want to add to their homes or build a new home, and to prevent excess, out-of-scale structures that can overwhelm and intrude intrude,
v to move a tooth apically. into a neighborhood," Weisman said.
After the ordinance is adopted by the City Council, Weisman said, communities can apply to become districts with stricter -- or even less strict -- building limits.
Still, property owners and real estate brokers attended Tuesday's panel hearing to vent their frustrations about the proposal, which they said is too restrictive in some areas, particularly in neighborhoods with large lots.
"Beautiful, big homes that have been built in recent years would not be built today if they burned down," said Realtor Mary Lu Tuthill of Coldwell Banker in Brentwood.
She said she's seen two multimillion-dollar properties fall out of escrow escrow
Instrument, such as a deed, money, or property, that constitutes evidence of obligations between two or more parties and is held by a third party. It is delivered by the third party only upon fulfillment of some condition. recently in Brentwood when the buyers learned of the proposed ordinance and realized they wouldn't be able to tear down to demolish violently; to pull or pluck down.
See also: Tear the existing home and build a bigger house on the property.
With the proposed square-footage limits, Tuthill said, "You couldn't build an outside pool house, a covered patio or a third-car garage."
Under the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, home sizes would be based on lot size and zoning.
For example, on a typical 5,000-square-foot lot, a property owner can now build a 7,000-square-foot house. The proposed ordinance would allow a house on that lot size to range from 2,500 to 3,000 square feet.
Property owners are allowed to build a little larger house if the second floor is smaller than the ground floor so the home is less bulky and boxy box·y
adj. box·i·er, box·i·est
Resembling a box, especially in simplicity or rectangularity.
boxi·ness n. .
Weiss has also proposed that homeowners could get extra square footage if they build an energy- and water-efficient "green" home.
The ordinance would apply to more than 300,000 lots in the city's flatlands
Flatlands is a type of terrain similar to savanna and grassland. , but not to hillside or coastal communities.
Brentwood Community Council board member Stephen Gilbert Stephen Gilbert (15 January1910 – 12 January 2007) was a British painter and sculptor. He was one of the few British artists to fully embrace the avante garde movement in Paris in the 1950s. said the ordinance is needed to reduce the massive and bulky homes that sprout up and change a community's character.
"If we keep postponing the ordinance, we'll get more and more of the monsters," he said.