Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Profile: Tom Rothman and a Cleaner Zoning Code for LA

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In a post from earlier this week, profiles Tom Rothman, Senior Planner for the City of Los Angeles. Rothman takes on the role at a critical time. The demand for city living is on the rise; and developers are seizing the opportunity by pushing the boundaries of an old and complicated city zoning code.

If you live in the Greater Wilshire Neighborhoods – including Hancock-La Brea, Larchmont Village, Brookside, and Sycamore Square (areas without HPOZs) – you will want to follow the work being done by Rothman and his team at the LA Department of City Planning. The 5-year project to overhaul LA’s outdated zoning code is called Re:Code LAAnd already, neighbors are seeing impact.

According to Citylab:

One of the first tools to be rolled out will combat the tide of super-sized development in the city. Even after an anti-mansionization ordinance passed six years ago, Angelenos have seen more McMansions built in their relatively low-slung neighborhoods. Under loopholes in the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, developers are able to build as much as 20 or 30 percent beyond the usual limits.

Angry residents in some neighborhoods have responded with petitions. Others have proposed creating Residential Floor Area Districts with tighter restrictions. Seeing this backlash, in May, Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a motion to plug the holes in the original ordinance. It met with overwhelming support from many Los Angeles neighborhoods, and the city council voted unanimously to pass it.

Read more: – Meet the Man Trying to Fix LA’s Zoning


Local Impact:

See how one group of local neighbors recently came together to take back their sidewalk from a negligent builder

Leading up to the holidays, the developer of the property at 465 South Orange Drive in the La Brea-Hancock neighborhood took advantage of lax City supervision, and behaved as if there are no rules or regulations when it comes to developing a property of this nature. According to a complaint submitted to CD4 Councilman LaBonge’s office by neighbors,  McMansion developers have in the past:

  • ignored environmental and safety survey requirements for lead and asbestos
  • destroyed city property (power and light cables) without making any restitution
  • destroyed decades old oak trees without permits

The 465 S. Orange crew expanded their work footprint to effectively destroy and then block/take over the sidewalk adjacent to the property for more than three weeks. You can see from the pictures below the kind of blight residents have been subjected to.

Councilmember LaBonge’s office put the neighbors in touch with the right people at the City Department of Building and Safety and the builder was served a Notice of Violation. Unfortunately, this kind of problem is all to common in the face of a trend to max out property.

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 Editor’s Note: This article was edited at 3  pm on 1/9/15 to correctly convey that grievances noted in the bullet points above were tied to a number of developments in the area, and not specifically to the S. Orange property alone.

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Mary has lived in the Hancock Park area for over 20 years - including homes in Larchmont Village and Windsor Square. Mary has lived in some great places in her life - but none compare to the convenience and majesty of our neighborhood. For Mary, the neighborhood has been a wonderful home to her large, extended one time she had family members living on seven different Hancock Park area blocks! Larchmont Buzz is a labor of love - built to celebrate the neighborhood and to elevate the conversation in the area.

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  1. Thanks to the Larchmont Buzz for shining a light on the problems of mansionization. The historic nature of our neighborhood is being destroyed. And some demolitions have even proven to be toxic, spreading lead and asbestos into the air.

  2. A picture tells a thousand words. It’s not just this sidewalk but the persistent pattern and practice of property developers taking short cuts. This property (465 S. Orange) is a repeat violator that has been flaunting the law. Regardless of one’s stance on character/design of McMansions, the health and safety of our residents should not be compromised. Right now, unfortunately, it is.

  3. Thank you so much, Larchmont Buzz, for reporting on this issue. In less than a year, several of these developments have popped up on our street, and after nearly two decades living in the area, I’ve felt — for the first time — that it might be a less than optimal place to be. I am hopeful that with added exposure, we might restore our neighborhood.


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