Sunday, May 8, 2011

McMansion Law Toothless, Scourage Continues Unabated

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LA NEIGHBORHOODS
Dick Platkin

The Mayor recently signed a new ordinance adopted by the Los Angeles City Council to
halt the construction of McMansions on small hillside lots. These elected officials vow
that this ordinance will stop the mansionization process in hillside areas. But will it?
If the Hillside McMansion ordinance is filled with loopholes similar to those of the
Baseline McMansion ordinance enacted several years ago for non-hillside areas, hillside
residents should be very wary. This is because the Baseline ordinance still allowed
McMansions to be constructed -- as long as they were less than about 4,500 square feet.
Since this pActive Imagerovision effectively green-lighted nearly all
McMansions, especially in the R1-1 zone, the
Mansionization process has continued unabated in Los
Angeles.


To begin, McMansions are those boxy, massively
oversized, suburban-style spec houses appearing in
older neighborhoods, such as Beverly Grove, where I
live.
They are all two stories and built by house flippers to
the maximum height limit of 33 feet. They are almost always fortified with tall hedges
and walls, painted bright white, and designed with an attached two car garage seldom
used for cars.


There are now two efforts in Council District 5 to finally pull the plug on the
mansionizers. One is an overlay zoning ordinance for Studio City, whose adoption is
stalled. The other is a similar ordinance proposed by the Beverly Wilshire Homes
Association (BWHA) for the Beverly Grove neighborhood. This is an area north of
Wilshire Boulevard, sandwiched between The Grove and Beverly Center shopping centers, which has been targeted by the mansionizers.


TheActive Image residents of the Beverly Grove area believe it is now time for
Council District 5 to support the BWHA proposal and finally side with
local residents, not the spec builders.


Unless the Baseline McMansion ordinance is tightened up, the entire
character of the Beverly Grove neighborhood, many other parts of
the Council District 5, and eventually all of LA’s older residential neighborhoods
will be permanently transformed by real estate speculators. They will continue to buy
and bulldoze smaller homes, in order to replace them with McMansions that are quickly
placed on the market and then flipped every two years.


Furthermore, during the nearly two years since the Beverly Wilshire proposal was first
presented to Council District 5, many more McMansions have been built despite the real
estate recession. Local residents assume this is because the mansionizers do not depend
on bank financing to quickly get their behemoths to market. Until the code amendments
presented to CD 5 in Studio City and Beverly Grove are adopted, these trends will
continue and will probably get worse. When the dust finally settles, few traditional
Spanish revival and Tudor homes will remain.


As a result, the tipping point for much of Los Angeles is at hand, and this is the time to
act, to share your views with Council District 5. It is better to do something now rather
than point fingers later.


(Dick Platkin is city planning consultant on the board of the Beverly Wilshire Homes
Association.
Please send questions or comments to: rhplatkin@yahoo.com)
-cw

CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 31
Pub: Apr 19, 2011

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