Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles City Council adopted temporary restrictions Wednesday in 20 neighborhoods where residents complain about “mansionization,” a trend of building mansion-like homes that are unusually large for their lots.

The rules halt the issuance of demolition and building permits to property owners in those neighborhoods, five of which are being considered for historical status.

Ordinances restricting demolition and some exterior alterations in proposed historical zones will go into effect in Sunset Square, Carthay Square, Holmby, Oxford Square and the Berkshire Craftsman district of El Sereno.

Another 15 neighborhoods are in areas where anti-mansionization rules are being developed. Those areas include Valley Village in the San Fernando Valley, South Hollywood, La Brea Hancock, The Oaks in Los Feliz, Miracle Mile, Larchmont Heights, the Fairfax area and Bel Air.

Some residents in those areas complain that their neighbors are building homes that tower over adjacent residences or take up large portions of their lots.

They argue that the home building trend often derided as “mansionization” detracts from the existing character of a neighborhood and impinges on privacy as homes are sometimes built uncomfortably close to an adjacent property.

The ordinances will be in place a maximum of two years as the city considers the proposed historical zone applications or develops permanent ordinances to curb mansionization.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who proposed the control ordinances, told City News Service he is “very happy” the restrictions will go into effect soon, “so that we can avoid having hundreds more homes demolished” while city officials work on more permanent rules on mansionization.

“Hopefully this will slow down the occurrence of boxy, lot line-to-lot line McMansions,” he said.

It might be another year and half or more before city officials develop longer lasting ordinances, Koretz said.

“I’m just happy to get to this point, and relieved, and now I’m looking forward to the process of trying to make this work nationwide,” he said.

Many of the neighborhoods have restrictions tailored to the area. Bel Air’s control ordinance bars the hauling of more than 6,000 cubic yards of dirt, which residents say results in pollution and public safety problems from the multiple truck trips.

Dan Fisk, chairman of the Bel Air Homeowners Alliance, applauded the approval of the control ordinance for the Bel Air area, saying the the hauling of dirt “damages city roads, causes accidents and contributes to the increased air pollution as well as hillside erosion.”

Fisk urged the council to move quickly in adopting more permanent measures.

“This is a vast improvement from having no limit on the number of truck trips. Going forward, more comprehensive regulations are needed to protect the character of our neighborhoods, halt detrimental environmental impacts on our communities and keep our roads in good repair and our residents safe from runaway trucks,” he said.

The ordinance comes as several developers are planning to build big homes in Bel Air, according to the Alliance.

“Big developers seem only to have one interest at heart: themselves,” said Fred Rosen, president of the alliance. “The city of Los Angeles needs to step up to the plate to halt the out of control mega-development currently happening in our communities before irreparable damage is done to our hillsides and roads and before more people get hurt.”

City News Service

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