Responding to homeowners concerned about the "mansionization" of their neighborhoods, the Glendale City Council on Tuesday introduced a temporary ordinance that would establish size limits and a stringent review process for the construction or major expansion of single-family houses.
In recent years, "mansionization"--tearing down existing houses and building new ones that nearly fill their lots--has become a trend in several Los Angeles County communities, particularly on the Westside.
Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades and the city of Los Angeles have adopted anti-mansionization measures recently. Critics contend such measures deprive individuals of private property rights.
The Glendale ordinance, which council members said they will adopt Tuesday, will last from one to two years. During that time, the city's planning staff would work on a permanent ordinance that would regulate construction according to each neighborhood's characteristics.
The proposal introduced Tuesday by the planning staff calls for limits on height, landscaping, open space and parking. It would also limit the minimum distance between the building's exterior and the adjacent street and property lines and establish a floor-area ratio--a method for controlling building size by measuring the relation of floor space to the lot area.
The ordinance would also require that all new construction of more than 700 square feet be approved by the city's Design Review Board. Planning Director John McKenna told the council that the 700-square-foot limit was proposed because it amounts to a "sizable addition to an already existing house."
On Tuesday, more than 100 residents attended the debate on the council's proposal. About a dozen addressed the council, with a slight majority favoring the ordinance. Representatives of three homeowners associations said they supported the proposal.
Tamara Campbell made an emotional plea against it. "Once again, the government is intruding into our private rights," she said. "This ordinance would make our homes subject to the taste of bureaucrats and our neighbors. We live in a free society. These things shouldn't happen."
Mayor Jerold Milner said after the meeting: "A few years back, we all felt that government at every level should stay out of our lives. But with the increase in property values, many people with a whole lot of money are imposing their desires on the rest of the city until the government has to step in."
If adopted next week, the ordinance would take effect within 30 days.