Back in December, we asked the question, “When is a “remodel” really a “demolition”?“, which was prompted by a building project in Citrus Square permitted as remodeling construction, but which left only one stud from the original building in place…and that only temporarily propped up before it, too, was removed.
This is something we have seen a number of times in recent years in our Greater Wilshire area (another recent instance, in Sycamore Square, is recounted in the same link above). And it’s a problem because, since 2014, demolitions of older buildings in Los Angeles require demolition permits, a 45-day public notice and review period before the permit can be issued, and that the demolition work comply with certain safeguards …while simple remodels need only permits for the new construction work.
Very often, however, developers and builders will file permits only for the new construction work, leaving just one small piece of the original structure in place (and perhaps only temporarily), so they do not have to file for a demolition permit, wait out the public notice and review period, or comply with demolition safety rules (such as dust abatement, etc.).
This has been possible, however, because the 2014 ordinance requiring those things for demolition permits did not define the difference between “demolitions” and “remodels,” which allowed both developers and city officials to define them in the loosest possible terms.
After the Citrus Square project in December, however, City Council Member Paul Koretz, who represents the Citrus Square area, vowed to close the loophole in the 2014 demolition permit ordinance. And on February 24, he – with support from 4th District Council Member David Ryu – introduced a new motion that would “re-define remodels as those that maintain at least 50% of an original structure in order to maintain any nonconforming rights, improve notification requirements to neighbors, and review all applicable building loopholes in the City’s codes that may negatively impact neighbors.”
The motion would also establish:
“Best Practices for Demolitions” and options the City could adopt to minimize impacts to neighbors, including:
• Timely and adequate notification to neighboring properties,
• Dust mitigation,
• Noise mitigation,
• Construction street parking,
• Other impacts and complaints received by the City.
According to Koretz’ Senior Planning Deputy, Faisal Alserri, the motion has been referred to the City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which will consider it and then, eventually, send it back to the full City Council for approval. Alserri said dates for the PLUM and full council votes have not yet been set, “but Councilmember Koretz is committed to closing this loophole.”
And neighbors are hoping that will happen, too. Citrus Square resident John Perfitt told the Buzz, “My hope is that fake remodels/additions will end and owners and investors alike will hew to the new code of R1V2-RG which limits FAR to an appropriate scale and forces rear garages.”