LA takes new steps to fight McMansions

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The Los Angeles City Council is once again cracking down on mansionization, an issue that has practically torn residential neighborhoods apart for a good number of years now.

The council voted today to update its rules regulating McMansions by restricting how big single family homes can be.

The total floor area allowed in most homes was reduced to 45 percent of the size of the lot the house is built on. In a previous ordinance, homes could be as large as 50 percent of the lot.

Mansionization—simply described as the process by which conspicuously enormous homes replace smaller residences that more smoothly blend with the neighborhood aesthetic—was first addressed by the city in a 2008 law called the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance.

Since then, many residents have complained that the original ordinance was too lenient.

The council also approved today rules for building on hillsides and solidified neighborhood-specific building requirements that had previously been mandated through temporary measures in 15 different parts of the city. Those regulations were set to expire in just three weeks, so the council was under some pressure to solidify the new zoning rules in order to avoid creating a window for developers to quickly build a few of the boxy homes the city wants to limit.

Another issue it tackled? Garages.

Often discounted in a home’s total floor area, large attached garages can add plenty of mass to an already roomy single-family home. But under another ordinance approved today, garages in certain districts would be detached and placed in the rear of the house—where they would presumably make the total structure a bit less imposing.

In a written statement, Councilmember Paul Koretz, who helped lead this latest charge against mansionization, said that the city had taken the “necessary steps” to effectively combat the issue. “We are bringing single family developments into the 21st century in a smarter and more effective way,” he said.

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