PROMOTING THE CHARACTER OF LA NEIGHBORHOODS


What is Mansionization?

Mansionization is not about big houses. It’s about houses too big for their lots.  


What's the problem?

McMansions loom over their neighbors. They take their air and light and privacy, and they hurt their property value.

Mansionization spoils the scale and character of established neighborhoods. And it prices more and more families out of the market. 

L.A. passed a citywide Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (or BMO) in 2008. But it was full of loopholes, and mansionization has just gotten worse since then.


What's the solution?

Fix the BMO. Councilmember Koretz came up with common-sense amendments that close the loopholes. These amendments allow remodeling and construction of spacious, modern homes that also show consideration for their neighbors and neighborhood.

The proposed amendments are simple, sensible, and enforceable. That’s why the City Council adopted the Motion and why dozens of neighborhood councils and homeowner/resident associations support the amendments.  

That’s also why developers are working hard to stall and weaken the amendments.

But Angelenos who want smart, thoughtful development are pushing back against business as usual at City Hall.

We need your support, too. To find out how you can help, click here.


Some specifics

The BMO starts with a very generous “base ratio,” so Councilmember Koretz proposed reducing the ratio by a couple of points. 

The BMO leaves hundreds and hundreds of square feet uncounted, and it offers bonuses that bulk up houses by another 20 percent. Councilmember Koretz proposed closing these self-defeating loopholes.

These common-sense amendments are laid out in a one-page Council Motion.

Click here to read the Motion.  


Don't be fooled

An amended BMO still allows remodeling and construction of spacious, modern homes that also show consideration for their neighbors and neighborhood, like the houses below.


Garages Count 

In the campaign to stop mansionization in Los Angeles, the issue of attached garages stands – well, front and center. 

Under the current ordinance, the city doesn’t count the first 400 sq ft of attached garage space when it calculates the size of the house (or “floor area”). That’s like deducting your arms from your total weight. Crazy, right?

 
Now the City Planning Commission has recommended a compromise that still exempts 200 sq ft of attached garage space at the front or 400 sq ft at the back.   


Not perfect, for sure:  It doesn’t address the bulk of the attached garage.  But better, because it creates an incentive for garages that are out of sight and must be accessed by a driveway.


As the city rolls out its new menu of zoning options under “re:code LA,” individual neighborhoods may want to ask for zoning that completely eliminates the exemption for attached garages.  Here’s why:

  • Detached garages don’t really impact neighboring properties. But attached garages add a lot of bulk and eliminate the buffer of a driveway between houses.  

  • Detached garages are in the DNA of older residential neighborhoods. More than any other single design feature, attached garages alter the character of older neighborhoods.   

  • People rarely actually park in these “garages,” and they usually use double-wide curb cuts that reduce available street parking. So they make street congestion even worse.  

  • Homeowners would still have the option of an attached garage, and counting that square footage would reflect the real size of the structure.

  • Enforcement would be straightforward. Including attached garage space in the FAR just makes the math easier. 

  • City code requires covered parking, and that gets trotted out as an excuse to exclude attached garage space when calculating the size of the house. What nonsense! The code also requires kitchens and bathrooms. So should we exclude them, too?  

Excluding detached garage space makes sense, but excluding attached garage space just bulks up houses by a whopping 400 square feet. And it violates the goals of the city’s General Plan framework and the core principles outlined in the City Planning Commission’s “Do Real Planning.”  

Los Angeles has at least two precedents for counting the square footage of attached garages: the Mt. Washington/Glassell Park Specific Plan (enacted 1993) and the Beverly Grove RFA Overlay (enacted 2013).