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Anti-Mansionization Proponents Score Big Win But Are We Losing Sight Of The “Bigger” Picture?

photo credit: dwell.com

photo credit: dwell.com

Many of the proposed changes were welcomed by local residents worried about mansionization: The new rules would no longer allow a 20% bonus in square footage for using ecologically friendly building methods. They would also reduce the square footage that would generally be allowed for homes in residential areas, changing it from 50% to 45% of the lot size. And porches and patios that are covered would count toward the legal limit on building size, rather than being exempt.

Watching the anti-mansionization tsunami has hands down been more of my more frustrating experiences as a homeowner in Los Angeles.

In fact, I was moved to write a rare post on my personal blog about this topic in April 2015 and again in December 2015. Lots of people running around screaming that the sky is falling because houses are getting bigger kind of leaves me scratching my head.

Do these people not understand the deal they are making with the devil? Porches and patios counting toward the already restricted square footage? You can bet the bank that new houses are not going to have porches and patios. Talk about ugly, boxy houses!

And let’s talk about square footage restrictions. Every time I turn around the City wants to steal a bedroom from my family in our next remodel.

Currently we own a 1500 square foot house on a standard 6000 square foot lot. The old rules would have allowed us to build 3000 square feet plus 600 additional feet if we built green and/or took advantage of the other two incentives. A 3600 square foot home would allow for the 5 bedrooms that families our size want when one or both of the adults work at home. That is a large, comfortable home, but by no means a mansion.

The first big mansionization “reform” proposed by the City offered 50% of the lot size with no incentives.

3000 square feet for us? I guess we’re losing a bedroom in the big remodel. I suppose 4 bedrooms could work, but our resale value just took a hit.

But now comes news that the City is on the verge of finalizing a 45% rule. There goes another bedroom!

By my loose realtor calculation, the City is getting ready to take a good $500-$800K out of my family’s pocket by shaving off two bedrooms from what we could have built a year ago.

And why? Because a small, organized constituency of people don’t want LA to change.

Has anybody else noticed that our mayor is busy rolling out the red carpet to the tech industry? Maybe he didn’t get the memo, but those people like to work from home.

In a city with a housing crisis, why is LA cutting back bedrooms? And what about the traffic impacts when the people like me who work at home have to commute to an office because we can’t build an adequate home office?

Is anybody actually reading and digesting the proposed changes? What the anti-mansionizers are calling “loopholes” and “bonuses” were actually very effective incentives to build better looking and greener houses.

Don’t even get me started about the trend toward multi-generational families under one roof. Are they going to live in 3-bedroom houses? Hardly.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not inclined to leave a cool half mil on the table because Dora down the street likes our little Mayberry just the way it is.

Are you mad, too? Join me at 10 am on Sunday when I plan on hitting Mike Bonin’s pop up office hours at the Westchester Farmers Market to ask him why he is so intent on hurting my family’s retirement plan.

UPDATE: For whatever reason, the LA Times reporter fails to mention that the action on Thursday is limited to the extension of the Interim Control Ordinance (“ICO”) only. For 90045, that means Kentwood only (including, sadly, my family). Should you be any less mad? Definitely not. Your neighborhood is undoubtedly next. 🙁


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About Tracy Thrower Conyers

Tracy Thrower Conyers is a long-time resident of Westchester 90045. Tracy closely follows local politics, political players and social chatter relevant to Westchester. As a mom with a school-aged child, Tracy is keenly aware of the importance of the educational choices we make for our kids, and spends a lot of time following local schools. She's active in California's charter school movement, and pays extra attention to special needs education choices and resources. Tracy is also a founding principal in Silicon Beach Properties. Tracy is a recognized expert on Silicon Beach and its impact on residential and residential income real estate, and has been featured by respected media outlets including the LA Times, KPCC and KCET. Tracy's primary focus and expertise includes buying and selling homes and residential income properties in Venice, Marina del Rey, Mar Vista, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey and Westchester. Find more on Tracy and Silicon Beach Properties on sb.p's website. Connect other places online with Tracy: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest.

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