The citywide ordinances brought substantial and much-needed changes.

On March 1, the Los Angeles City Council voted to adopt far-reaching amendments to the citywide mansionization ordinances.  

On March 8, the Council voted to adopt ordinances that also provide access to a menu of “variation zones” for about 20 neighborhoods where mansionization has been most prevalent.  

The ordinances were signed by Mayor Eric Garrett and took effect March 17:

  • Floor area ratio.  This ratio compares the size of the house to the size of its lot and is the central element in determining home size.  The floor area ratio was reduced for all single-family zones in the City of Los Angeles.

  • Exemptions.  Previously, certain spaces were excluded from “floor area.”  Exemptions such as those for attached garages and covered porches/patios/balconies added hundreds of square feet of uncounted floor space.  Most of this space now counts as floor area, so the floor area ratio better reflects actual home size.

  • Bonuses.  Previously, the use of certain design features and building materials earned bonus square footage that increased house size by 20 percent.  These bonuses were eliminated entirely in most single-family neighborhoods and sharply reduced in others.

  • Grading and hauling.  Previously, excessive allowances for grading posed a threat to the integrity of hillsides, and trucking out huge amounts of soil put a strain on roads in hillside neighborhoods.   These allowances have now been sharply curtailed.

  • In addition to the protection provided by the citywide mansionization ordinances, related ordinances creating a menu of variation zones gave stakeholders valuable tools to tailor regulations to the needs of their neighborhoods.  

A dozen such zones were developed based on analysis of street patterns, lot orientation, and building placement.  They are designed to reflect unique blends of scale, massing, building setbacks, architectual styles, and landscaping of neighborhoods. 

Because the timetable to develop and implement permanent ordinances stretched over nearly three years, about 20 neighborhoods where mansionization was most prevalent sought protection through ICOs (Interim Control Ordinances) scheduled to expire after permanent regulations were in place.  While the permanent regulations were in process, these neighborhoods selected the variation zone they felt would best suit their needs.

Over a period of several years, the variation zones will also be made available to single-family neighborhoods across the city.  Meanwhile, all single-family neighborhoods have the protection afforded by the citywide mansionization ordinances – in fact, some neighborhoods may opt to rely entirely on the ordinances, rather than adopt a variation zone.

With these far-reaching reforms, the City of Los Angeles took decisive steps to preserve the scale and character of its irreplaceable single-family neighborhoods.