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Beverly Hills Review Panel to Monitor House Sizes

December 17, 1987|JULIO MORAN | Times Staff Writer

You can never be too rich in Beverly Hills, but the City Council on Tuesday took steps to make sure your mansion doesn't get too grand.

The council adopted an interim ordinance establishing a building review procedure designed to make sure that hillside homes built north of Sunset Boulevard don't become so large that they "materially change the scale, integrity or character of the area."

The Trousdale Estates area, which already has separate building standards, is excluded from the new review procedure.

"The trend now is for bigger houses," said planning Commissioner Rose Norton. "That's fine, but we've got to have some kinds of guidelines to control how big something can be."

According to planning officials, many hillside homes north of Sunset Boulevard are about 5,000 square feet. But the recent trend has seen homes increase to as much as 10,000 square feet. Two homes under construction on a hillside on Shadow Hill Way are each 12,000 square feet with tennis courts.

Views Are Blocked

Officials said residents have complained that views are being impaired and that the larger homes are incompatible with the neighborhood.

The new review procedure will apply to new structures, additions to structures in excess of 20% of the existing floor area and any projects increasing the height of the existing structure.

A so-called "development permit" will be required before the city will issue building permits during the 45 days that the interim ordinance is in effect.

The new procedure calls for notifying property owners within 500 feet of the proposed project. Currently, notification is not required for development of single-family homes that meet building code requirements.

The projects will be reviewed by a three-member board with representatives from the Planning Commission, the Planning and Community Development Division and the Building and Safety Division.

The board may deny the project if "the scale, integrity or character of the area" is changed to one that is "incompatible with the predominant character of development within the area."

Projects can also be denied if one of the following conditions exists:

View, line of sight or vista of an adjacent property owner is affected.

Light and air circulation is deprived.

Privacy or security is threatened.

Geologic instability or hazards are created.

The board's decision may be appealed to the Planning Commission and to the City Council.

Mark Scott, director of environmental services, said the new review process will require hiring at least one additional staff person and could delay approval of some projects as long as six months.

Scott said the new review procedure is needed because the city's hillside ordinance and residential bulk ordinance don't go far enough to protect the concerns of residents.

55% of Lot's Size

The bulk ordinance adopted in June limits the total floor area of a structure to 55% of the size of the lot. The hillside ordinance, approved in 1985, require structures to be at least 30 feet from the rear and side property lines.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of the interim ordinance to give it more time to study more specific requirements for a permanent ordinance.

"Setbacks don't go far enough to protect the neighborhood," said planning Commissioner Alan Alexander.

"We need to look to the future of our community," said planning Commissioner Meralee Goldberg.

Scott said nearly 30 residential projects north of Sunset Boulevard are being processed by the Building and Safety Division. He said he did not know at this time how many of those would be affected by the interim ordinance.

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