- Written by Charles Tarlow
22 Apr 2011
VOICE IN THE CHEAP SEATS - Let’s talk about what Dick Platkin didn’t tell you in his recent CityWatch article on McMansions. (link)
The Great Zoning War of the last five years was fought between those who wanted to limit the size of new homes and those that wanted property owners to decide what they wanted to do with their properties.
The current citywide “Mansionization Ordinance” was a compromise lowering the FAR (Floor Area Ratio) to 3000sf with a bonus of 600sf for articulated architecture. In essence, limiting new homes and home additions to 3600sf with proper setbacks on a 6000sf lot.
This number was not arrived at frivolously. There were numerous meetings, presentations, focus groups, feedback sessions, surveys, letters, and petitions. The resulting compromise was meant to stop oversize construction while still allowing neighborhoods to evolve and build modern homes that meet the needs of today’s families.
3600 sf Max... End of Story. Well … not quite.
Now Dick Platkin and a small group of people in the Beverly Grove Area (My Neighborhood) want a special zoning overlay to limit the size of new homes and additions to a FAR of 2000sf with a 375sf bonus for articulated architecture.
This would limit home size to a maximum of 2375sf. Never mind that the property value of many of their neighbors will drop by hundreds of thousands of dollars. That doesn't bother them at all. Maybe that is because many of them already have larger homes. They have finished their additions. Now they want to prevent their neighbors from doing the same thing they did.
I know this is a personal story about my neighborhood, my neighbors, and my property ... but if you take the journey with me, I believe what I have to say will be important to you. And should your neighborhood come under attack, it will be VERY IMPORTANT to you.
The proponents of this zoning overlay want to impose their desires on 700 homes with no regard for the desires of their neighbors or the value of their neighbor’s properties. They know that the overlay they are asking for will reduce the value of small homes by hundreds of thousands of dollars and they don't care. They want what they want and they will say anything to get it. Anything? Yes, Anything!
This is what makes this zoning battle so frustrating; Deception, Intimidation, and lies.
I first met these people when they were trying to get an Historical Preservation Overlay in my neighborhood. Anyone who voiced opposition was called a “house flipper” or a “developer”. They even called me a “house flipper” when I voiced an objection. Never mind that I was here before they ever heard of Colgate Avenue. Today they will deny they ever asked for an HPOZ … but we know the truth.
That was five years ago. Their tactics for success were simple. Tell Their Councilman that they represent the neighborhood, gather signatures by telling their neighbors they need help to stop the building of 6000sf homes (that could not be built), to stop three story homes (that could not be built), and that the new homes being built were hurting property values (when just the opposite was true).
Now back to the present … the Mansionization Ordinance is in effect. The maximum size of a new home is 3600sf. Yet Dick Platkin can't help himself from stating in his article to CityWatch that he is trying to prevent the building of 4500sf homes.
Worse, his group put together a data sheet and Graph that leads people to believe that 4700sf homes can be built under current law and that the proposed ordinance is asking for a 3600sf limitation.
Nothing could be further from the truth, yet this sheet was distributed to the neighborhood along with an article from the Beverly Wilshire Homes Association paper with the same bogus info.
You have to give them credit … they are as good at an organized assault as they are at distorting the truth.
But wait … put that checkbook away ...there's more!!!
These hucksters managed to get Councilman Paul Koretz's office to include their bogus Graph and Information sheet in an official survey sent out ostensibly to determine if there is overwhelming support for the proposed ordinance. Sadly … the survey was confusing and misleading. I am sure it scared a lot of people. We don't know the results yet, but we were appalled when we received such a flawed document.
There are 700 homes on the five targeted streets. Paul Koretz has stated clearly that he would not support any overlay without the overwhelming support of the neighborhood, but declined to define overwhelming support. We define overwhelming support as 80% of property owners and are confident that the proponents couldn't get 50% if they tried for 10 years. Soooo … here it is. Politics in action.
The proponents claim overwhelming support but can't prove it.
The opponents are asking their Councilman to honor his commitments.
The Jury is out...
Vol 9 Issue 32
Pub: Apr 22, 2011