This Just In: Work Finally Begins on Stop McMansions Ordinance

VOICES - After years of hard work by local homeowners and residents, the LA City Planning Department is finally starting work on an ordinance to create a Beverly Grove Residential Floor Area (or RFA) District. 

The RFA is designed to stop the continuing spread of McMansions in Beverly Grove, a mid-city neighborhood bounded on the north by Colgate, on the south by Lindenhurst, on the east by Fairfax, and on the west by San Vicente.  

Authorized by a provision of the city’s Baseline Mansionization Ordinance and based on a Council Motion submitted by Councilmember Paul Koretz, the RFA sets sensible new limits on home size and applies to an area of about 700 single-family homes.  The Beverly Wilshire Homes Association (BWHA) and the Coalition of Homeowner Associations for Council District 5 both support the Beverly Grove RFA, in part because the adoption of meaningful limits on home size in Beverly Grove will set an important precedent for similar L.A. neighborhoods. 

Planning Department staff is now gathering information and input on the Beverly Grove ordinance, and they expect to begin workshops and other public meetings as early as March.  For Angelenos who value neighborhood character and quality of life, here are some key points to understand about the Beverly Grove RFA

 

The Beverly Grove RFA is sensible and fair. 

 

  • Most lots in Beverly Grove are around 6,000 square feet, and the average existing home is about 2000 square feet.  Including bonuses, attached garages, double-height entryways, and enclosed balconies, most McMansions are about 4,400 square feet. 

 

  • Paul Koretz’s proposal for the RFA to restrict mansionization offers a fair and reasonable compromise.  It calls for a combination of base plus bonuses that would limit home size to about 3,000 square feet.

 

  • That’s about 15 percent larger than Councilmember Koretz’s initial proposal, which won broad community support. 

 

  • It’s about 40 percent (roughly 1000 square feet) larger than the median older homes in the neighborhood.

 

  • The proposed RFA allows for remodels and new construction.

 

  • It does not dictate that homes keep or copy historic styles.

The proposed Beverly Grove RFA just sets fair and sensible limits, so that new and remodeled homes respect the rights of their neighbors and the scale and character of their neighborhood.  That’s why the majority of Beverly Grove homeowners and residents support the RFA.

 

The Beverly Grove RFA protects property rights. 

 

Beverly Grove homeowners and residents care deeply about property rights and understand that these rights are subject to regulation for the overall benefit of the community.  For example:

  • People who live on these small city lots do not have the right to keep horses or chickens in their back yards.

 

  • They do not have the right to throw loud, raucous parties six nights a week.

 

  • They do not have the right to replace their homes with apartment buildings or gas stations.

 

  • And no one should have the right to build houses that tower over their neighbors and deprive them of sunlight, air, and privacy. 

 

That’s why the majority of Beverly Grove homeowners and residents understand that the RFA protects their property rights and welcome that protection.

 

The Beverly Grove RFA protects property values.

 

For most Beverly Grove homeowners, their homes represent a large part of our financial security.  Protecting the value of their homes is extremely important.

 

McMansions represent a windfall for contractors and realtors, but their gain comes at the expense of neighborhood character and at a cost to the homeowners living in their shadow.  Oversize houses loom high and wide, turning their neighbors’ yards into fishbowls and making their property less desirable.  

 

Sensible regulations that maintain neighborhood scale and character also promote strong and stable property values.

 

Contractors and realtors and their sympathizers insist that the RFA will harm property value, but Councilmember Paul Koretz answered this claim in his letter to Beverly Grove homeowners and residents.  Councilmember Koretz wrote:

 

“Beverly Grove is surrounded by neighborhoods with more restrictive HPOZs (Historical Preservation Zones) where property values have not diminished, and RFAs exist elsewhere in Studio City and Sunland-Tujunga without detrimental impacts to property values.”

 

That’s why the majority of Beverly Grove homeowners and residents understand that the RFA protects their property values.

 

The Beverly Grove RFA has deep roots in the community.

 

Because many of the neighborhoods surrounding Beverly Grove already have regulations to stop mansionization, Beverly Grove became a target for speculators drawn to its amenities and its central location.  Beginning in 2004, concerned Beverly Grove homeowners and residents mobilized to maintain the scale and character of their neighborhood.

 

Then-Councilmember Jack Weiss conducted a neighborhood survey on mansionization in Beverly Grove.   The response from homeowners and residents was excellent and over 60 percent of respondents asked for new limits on home size to control the early McMansion trend.

 

Based on the survey results, Jack Weiss proposed an Interim Control Ordinance, and in 2006, the City Council adopted it.  Unfortunately the ordinance was so permissive that it failed to stop McMansions. 

 

In 2008, the City Council adopted a citywide ordinance.  As before, the measure was so permissive that mansionization continued unabated in neighborhoods like Beverly Grove.

In 2011 current Councilmember Paul Koretz conducted his own survey on mansionization in Beverly Grove.  Once again, the response from homeowners and residents was excellent.  Once again, over 60 percent of respondents asked for new limits on home size. 

 

Later that year, Councilmember Koretz proposed an RFA overlay district to permanently restrict mansionization.   Over the next 15 months the RFA worked its way through an overloaded Planning Department, while mansionization accelerated.  Beverly Grove now has nearly 60 McMansions.

 

At every step of the way, contractors and realtors and their sympathizers insisted that no further regulation was needed.  They disputed the findings of Jack Weiss’s survey and insisted the neighborhood did not need an ICO.  They insisted the city did not need a Baseline Mansionization Ordinance.  They disputed the findings of Paul Koretz’s survey and they insist the neighborhood does not need an RFA.

 

But Paul Koretz and his predecessor Jack Weiss both took a stand on this issue.  Why?  Because they knew then and know now that the Beverly Grove community wants sensible limits on home size.  And they knew then and know now that stopping mansionization is actually required by the city’s own adopted planning policies and design guidelines.

 

To follow the preparation and adoption of the Beverly Grove RFA, log on to the website:  http://www.beverlygrove.org/.  

RFA supporters have a Facebook page:      https://www.facebook.com/NoMoreMcmansionsInBeverlyGrove 

 

You can also reach them by e-mail at  mcmansionsurvey@yahoo.com or by phone at 310-849-3649.

 

(Shelly Wagers is a community activist and the Beverly Grove area.)

-cw

 

CityWatch

Vol 11 Issue 13

Pub: Feb 13, 2013