The City Council this week voted 13-0 to rewrite two ordinances governing the size of new houses in single-family neighborhoods and on hillsides, the Los Angeles Times reported:
“One mansionization measure backed by the council would reduce the square footage allowed for houses in R-1 zones — areas where only single-family homes are permitted — to 45% of the overall lot size, down from 50%. The council also moved to eliminate provisions that have allowed homebuilders to obtain additional square footage for their projects.
For example, developers have had the right to go 20% bigger when they showed they followed environmentally friendly design standards. That would disappear under the council’s plan.”
This isn’t the first time the city has taken on the issue. The first mansionization ordinances passed in 2008. But homeowners and others argued that the law didn’t go far enough to protect neighborhoods, and McMansions are still invading historic neighborhoods.
This highlights how regulating McMansions is not a one-time deal. In this case, the city already had regulations on the books. But, with enough pressure from residents, two changes were made to limit the size of new homes (through two different means). Presumably, these regulations could change even further as residents and builders see how things go over the next few years. It is harder to imagine the McMansions guidelines would allow for larger homes but builders, developers, and residents interested in such homes also could exert influence.
This may also serve as a reminder about the difficulty of crafting city-wide ordinances when different neighborhoods (and residents) might have different concerns about McMansions. In other words, what works in one neighborhood may not work in another. I could understand why local governments wouldn’t want to create a patchwork of regulations but it would be interesting to know how many residents and neighborhoods are driving these regulations.