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.
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.
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.
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”). Like deducting your arms from your total weight. Crazy, right?
Reflecting the original Council motion and widespread demands, earlier drafts of the BMO and BHO amendments fixed this. They counted attached garages as floor space. Makes sense. Square footage is square footage.
Then city planners started waffling, and now the City Planning Commission has voted to exemptthe square footage of garages attached the back of a house and count only half the square footage of those at the front.
The CPC got it wrong. For one thing, this does nothing to address the 400 square feet of bloatadded by attached garages.
At least garages attached at the back of the house provide the buffer of a driveway and don’t disrupt the look of older neighborhoods. But those at the front have no compensating virtues.
At an absolute minimum, the city must count the square footage of garages attached at the front.
The Facts on Mansionization
In spite of a citywide “mansionization ordinance,” speculation and oversize houses have taken a heavy toll in our part of town. In fact, Angelenos from El Sereno to Bel Air know that the 2008 Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO) failed to stop McMansions. Developers continue to strip-mine the city, destroying the scale and character of established neighborhoods with houses far too big for their lots.
Los Angeles has a second chance to get it right: Councilmember Paul Koretz proposed simple, straightforward amendments that close the loopholes in the BMO. The Council adopted the Motion in May 2014. Now, after more than a year of throat-clearing (and stopgap ordinances called ICOs for some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods), the Planning Department is finally about to start work on the amendments.
Developers make a lot of money exploiting L.A. neighborhoods, and they want to keep the game going. Prepare to hear unfounded claims and bogus arguments from the speculators, their lobbyists, and their best friends at City Hall: