The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ask City Planning to put greater restrictions on teardowns and “mansionization” in fourteen neighborhoods, including Larchmont Village, La Brea-Hancock, Miracle Mile, South Hollywood, Oxford Square and Carthay Square.
The action comes with neighborhoods finding the improved real estate market has drawn developers to buy up old homes, tear them down, and erect large two-story homes. The activity is most prevalent in 1920s neighborhoods that don’t have historic preservation overlay zones for protection. Residents don’t like the way the new large homes are built out into backyards, eliminating green space and privacy for others on the block; nor do they like the often modern architecture that usually features tall, solid walls on the sides, and garages placed on the front of the house, rather than tucked into the back yard as was done in homes built in earlier eras.
The new restrictions are expected to be drawn up differently for each neighborhood, which is why City Planning says it will need 18 months to fine-tune the new mansionization ordinance. City Planning will have to hold public hearings and check environmental laws for each neighborhood. In some areas, it is expected the City may call for an outright ban on teardowns, while in other areas there may be only limitations on size, setback and lot coverage for new buildings, or a combination of the two. In the meantime, the Council is asking for an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) to halt any more teardowns until the ordinance is passed.
“I would hope that city officials can enact the ICO quicker than 60 days, to ensure that neighborhoods like La Brea – Hancock can maintain their integrity,” Barbara Savage, President of the La Brea-Hancock Neighborhood Association told the Larchmont Buzz. There are 17 properties in her area that are owned by banks or LLCs that could be threatened; 15 homes have been bulldozed and rebuilt already.
Six years ago the City Council passed the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO) to limit the building of super-sized homes in old neighborhoods, but developers quickly found ways to take advantage of allowed “bonuses”, such as energy efficiency credits, and they built new single family homes 20% to 30% larger than was allowed under the basic provision. Residents in La Brea-Hancock complained that the developers are so sly they don’t even list the total square footage of the new properties, knowing they have pushed the limits allowed by law.
“These are amazing neighborhoods, filled with great homes. The past has to be preserved for the future.” Councilman Tom LaBonge, CD4, said in response to the new measures.
Larchmont Buzz: La Brea-Hancock Neighborhood Rallies Against Mansionization