Cut LA planning staff and expect more McMansions

Critics suggest that cutting several city employees will lead to more McMansions in Los Angeles:

Garcetti’s 2016-2017 budget calls for cutting two staff jobs in the seven-member Neighborhood Conservation division.

The division helps prepare historical designations — or Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs) — for neighborhoods with distinctive architectural or cultural features. An HPOZ designation can help a neighborhood from overdevelopment by setting strict building guidelines, such as requiring that homes have a similar exterior look.

HPOZ designations are in place in dozens of neighborhoods, including Hancock Park, Van Nuys and University Park.

The mayor’s proposed Planning Department budget — released last week as part of his overall $8.7 billion spending plan for next fiscal year — comes at a crucial time for the Neighborhood Conservation division, advocates say. The office is racing to finish HPOZ designations for six areas before a law outlining teardowns of homes in those neighborhoods expires.

Usually such jobs in local government draw little attention, particularly when the city employs over 45,000 people and Los Angeles County has more than 100,000 employees. Yet, a relatively small set of city employees can oversee relatively large or influential projects. And the battle over McMansions in Los Angeles is not over as this tidbit later in the article suggests:

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is leading a March 2017 ballot measure initiative that would temporarily halt construction of so-called mega-projects in the city.

In Los Angeles, the competing forces of an expensive housing market plus property rights will be fighting the forces of historic preservation for a while yet.