On June 29, the Los Angeles City Council enacted an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) to help protect the Brookside, Sycamore Square, Wilshire Vista, Picfair Village and Sherman Oaks neighborhoods from mansionization while the city completes revisions to its Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO). The ICO prevents construction permits for new homes from being issued until architectural plans conforming to neighborhood-specific size and massing guidelines have been accepted and approved by the city.
The original ICO was scheduled to expire just 45 days after its enactment, on August 12, but – like a similar measure passed for 15 other neighborhoods in 2015 – it also contained a clause giving the City Council an option to renew it for up to 22 months and 15 days:
Sec. 6. DURATION OF ORDINANCE. This ordinance shall be in force and effect for 45 days from its date of adoption. The City Council may extend this ordinance for 22 months and 15 days. Any extension shall be based on the City Council finding that the proliferation of hulking, box-like structures in certain residential neighborhoods continues to pose a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety or welfare.
And just as it did with the earlier ordinance, the City Council yesterday exercised that option and voted to extend the newer ICO until 2019.
One of the chief considerations in the City Planning Department’s request for the extension was to provide more time “to establish permanent contextual zoning for the above-listed neighborhoods.”
That more-permanent zoning will come in one of two forms:
1. the fully-revised Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, or…
2. one of five new versions of R-1 (single family) zoning options, which will be part of the city’s larger ReCodeLA effort. (The choice to be governed by either the BMO or one of the new R-1 zones will be up to each neighborhood.) The new R-1 options will allow neighborhoods to choose among several specific sets of building design and massing guidelines, and also to customize the guidelines in some ways, to better address the individual needs of each area.
But neither of those new zoning options are quite ready yet. The Planning Department’s request for the ICO extension noted that “It is highly unlikely, if not impossible, for the (Baseline Mansionization) Ordinance to become effective prior to the ICO’s initial expiration date of August 12, 2016.” And while the Department said that the new R-1 zoning options should be in place for Wilshire Vista and Picfair Village before March, 2017 (when the original 15 neighborhoods’ ICO is set to expire), the extension will now assure that “the new zones will be ready and available” for all five of the new ICO neighborhoods before their ICO expires.
Finally, while the topic of Historic Preservation Overlay Zone status was not addressed in the Planning Deparment’s ICO extension request, or in yesterday’s City Council vote, both Brookside and Sycamore Square are currently working on HPOZ applications. (The BMO and new R1 zones address only size, floor area ratio and massing. They do not address historic and stylistic compatibility of new construction, which HPOZs do.) So the ICO extension will also help those efforts by providing additional months of temporary mansionization protection while more style-specific protection is pursued through the HPOZ process.
Speaking to the Buzz earlier this week, Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association President Sue Horwitz acknowledged this benefit, saying the extension “is a good thing for Sycamore Square in that it will take us a while to educate our residents about an HPOZ (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone) and give us a stronger consensus for that.”