In late March 2015, the City Council passed a pair of Interim Control Ordinances (ICO) to address concerns all around town about the presumed threat that “mansionization” poses to our neighborhoods. It was passed by a unanimous vote after about 9 months of repeated delay. Initially implemented for a 45-day period, it was extended for a further 22 months at the end of April. Earlier this week, my business partner Craig Spano and I attended the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association Meeting, one of the numerous affected neighborhoods. Many attendees expressed confusion and shock at the actual form the Ordinance has taken. So, here is what the Department of Planning says about the ICOs:
The Los Angeles City Council on March 25 approved two Interim Control Ordinances (ICOs), drafted by Department of City Planning staff: one ordinance prohibiting demolitions and substantial alterations of homes in five proposed Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs), and a second ordinance limiting the scale of new construction in 15 additional neighborhoods. Both ordinances took effect immediately upon adoption.
These ICOs have been enacted for an initial 45-day period, during which they may be renewed for a period of up to two years. The ordinances are meant to provide immediate relief from demolitions and mansionization activity in areas experiencing significant change, providing time for the department to craft permanent development regulations in these neighborhoods.
The Department has prepared two new Zoning Information files, providing instructions to City staff in implementing the ordinances. To review the Zoning Information and text of the new ordinances, visit http://zimas.lacity.org/documents/zoneinfo/ZI2444.pdf and http://zimas.lacity.org/documents/zoneinfo/ZI2443.pdf.
The Department is currently completing the hiring process for planners to help staff a new neighborhood conservation unit, which will assist in pursuing three follow-up steps to the ICOs. First, Planning staff will prepare amendments to the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO), originally enacted in 2008, to close loopholes that have led to the construction of larger homes. Second, the Department will also move forward to adopt five new HPOZs over the next two years, in significant and cohesive historic neighborhoods: Carthay Square, Sunset Square, Holmby-Westwood, the El Sereno Berkshire Craftsman District, and Oxford Square. And finally, the Department will create permanent, contextual zoning tools to address neighborhood character in the other ICO neighborhoods through re:code LA, the comprehensive re-write of Los Angeles’ 1946 zoning code.
These “temporary” Ordinances have presented a real problem for many families, who are now unable to add needed square footage to their homes. What has been implemented is not just a stop to developers coming into peaceful neighborhoods and tearing down charming little houses. It is far more draconian than that, it puts a stop to homeowners who may have bought their houses with plans to add a reasonable amount of square footage, but now can’t. Is this fair? How was this decision made? Are there better ways to fix “the problem”? I intend to discuss all of this in future posts, and hopefully galvanize support for more nuanced solutions than seem to be in place.
Check out this article from the LA Times to understand where some of the opposition is coming from ]
David Lubell is a Licensed California Real Estate Agent (BRE# 01928231) with Keller Williams and homeowner/house-builder in Central Los Angeles. If you’d like to discuss mansionization with him to learn how it could effect you, reach out to him via email or call him directly at 323-272-3222.. Learn more about David by reading his bio.