The city is taking on McMansions again

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The City of Los Angeles appears ready to tackle one of the biggest headaches for homeowners in older neighborhoods: Mansionization, the practice of tearing down smaller houses and replacing them with outsized residences.

The City Council this week voted 13-0 to rewrite two ordinances governing the size of new houses in single-family neighborhoods and on hillsides, the Los Angeles Times reported:

“One mansionization measure backed by the council would reduce the square footage allowed for houses in R-1 zones — areas where only single-family homes are permitted — to 45% of the overall lot size, down from 50%. The council also moved to eliminate provisions that have allowed homebuilders to obtain additional square footage for their projects.

For example, developers have had the right to go 20% bigger when they showed they followed environmentally friendly design standards. That would disappear under the council’s plan.”

This isn’t the first time the city has taken on the issue. The first mansionization ordinances passed in 2008. But homeowners and others argued that the law didn’t go far enough to protect neighborhoods, and McMansions are still invading historic neighborhoods.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who is spearheading the new effort, acknowledged as much, writing in his motion that the old law “has fallen far short of its mandate to create regulations that allow for sustainable neighborhoods and that protect the interest of all homeowners.”

“Time and time again, community members in my district have voiced their concerns about huge, towering homes in their neighborhoods … we as leaders, enact policies based on community consensus and voices and not just developers,” he told Curbed in a statement.

Koretz represents the city’s 5th District, including the Westside and parts of the Santa Monica Mountains and San Fernando Valley, where some of the worst McMansion abuses take place.

Neighborhood advocates applauded the move. “If you took a vote of the 600,000 single-family homes in Los Angeles, I would bet my life on the fact 80 percent or more would be for this,” Studio City Neighborhood Council member Barry Johnson told the council, according to City News Service.

“I’m glad that as a body you are finally giving the weight to these 600,000 single-family households versus a couple of hundred spec builders,” Johnson added. “And in my neighborhood the spec builders make just as much money now in building a slightly smaller house as they did before. So it’s what you can sell it for, it’s not the size.”

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