The full Los Angeles City Council will consider a motion to institute an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) for the Brookside and Sycamore Square neighborhoods, and the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council area, on Wednesday, October 21. The motion, introduced by CD4 Council Member David Ryu in July, would prevent teardowns and certain kinds of major remodels of homes on RA, RE, RS and R1 (single family) lots in the protected areas while the City works on revisions to its Baseline Mansionization Ordinance. (Note: Sycamore Square also contains R2 and R3 multi-family properties in addition to its R1 single family properties; the ICO would cover only the R1 lots).
Several other local neighborhoods, which have seen numerous teardowns of existing homes and replacement with out-of-scale “mcmansions” (including La Brea-Hancock, Citrus Square and Miracle Mile), already have ICOs in place. The Brookside and Sycamore Square areas have been less affected by the trend so far, but both neighborhoods have had recent instances of the phenomenon, with more properties apparently scheduled for similar fates in the near future. Former City Council Member Tom La Bonge reportedly had intended to introduce an ICO motion for the additional neighborhoods before the end of his term, but it didn’t get done…so it was one of the first things on incoming Council Member David Ryu’s “to do” list.
As originally drafted, the regulations for new construction laid out in the ICO would align with those in a Studio City Residential Floor Area ordinance passed in 2012, which is slightly less restrictive than a similar ordinance later crafted for the Beverly Grove area, and later adopted by the La Brea-Hancock and Miracle Mile neighborhoods in their ICOs. The differences between the two versions has to do with the way square footage and Floor Area Ratios (the ratio of building space to lot size) are calculated, and whether or not there’s a bonus (and thus encouragement) for building detached garages at the rear of the property, which more clearly replicates the architectural patterns of older urban neighborhoods . Beverly Grove has simpler, more restrictive floor area calculations and includes the detached garage bonus, while Studio City has more complex formulas, with more bonus footage opportunities, and does not specifically encourage detached garages.
There was some discussion of the pros and cons of the two versions at the City Council PLUM Committee meeting where the ordinance was discussed on October 6, with several neighbors speaking up in favor of the more restrictive wording. Jan Weiringa, a Brookside resident who favors the more restrictive language, said it was “a disappointment” that the original motion was modeled after the Studio City rules. Earlier this week, however, CD4 Planning Deputy Julia Duncan reported to Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association President Ann Eggleston that an amendment will be presented at tomorrow’s meeting to revise the proposed ICO language to align with the Beverly Grove rules.
If the motion passes, both Sycamore Square and Brookside will join Miracle Mile in using the 22-month protection period provided by the ICO to institute further protections in the form of Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, which would help preserve the existing historic architectural integrity of those neighborhoods in addition to the size limits provided by the city’s mansionization ordinance. Wieringa says, “The passage of the ICO is critical for Brookside, as we are just starting to see houses being demolished in Brookside…and without the ICO we will see many more. The ICO will give us a buffer until we can establish an HPOZ for Brookside and we are working on that now.”
Tomorrow’s meeting will take place at City Hall Room 340, 200 N. Spring St., at 10:00 a.m. The meeting is open to the public, and members of the public who submit speaker cards will be allowed to provide comments. City Council meetings are also broadcast live on cable television Channel 35, and on the internet. Live audio is available at (213) 621-CITY, (818) 904-9450, (310) 471-CITY and (310) 547-CITY.
City Council Meeting
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012