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Group Sues to Enforce Home-Size Regulations : Limits: Lawsuit was prompted by an exemption for a family with four teen-agers to add bedrooms and baths.


GLENDALE — Arguing that granting exceptions will allow abuses, the Northwest Glendale Homeowners' Assn. has sued to force the city to strictly adhere to new rules regulating the size of home additions.

The lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court challenges a variance granted in June by the City Council to a couple with four teen-age daughters who say their 55-year-old, three-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath home is too small.

Rudy and Georgene Haubenreisser were the first to get an exception to a law adopted in April, 1991, that limits the size of new homes and additions to a percentage of the lot size.

The law was adopted to stop the "mansionization" of neighborhoods in which homes are built or expanded to nearly fill lots and are far larger than neighboring homes. The law separates neighborhoods into three districts, with maximum permitted home sizes ranging from 30% to 45% of lot sizes.

But on a 3-2 vote June 16, the council granted the Haubenreissers permission to add a second story with 697 square feet to their 2,244-square-foot Spazier Avenue home. The addition, which will provide two more bedrooms and two baths, is 475 square feet larger than the rules permit.

Ten other requests for variances have been filed, officials said. Five were granted by city zoning administrators, mostly for minor deviations such as extra space for a staircase.

Four, including the Haubenreissers', were denied because city staff members said they were not warranted and could set precedents. Two are pending before the city zoning administrator.

The council's overturning of the Haubenreissers' denial found that strict application of the law would create "practical difficulties or unnecessary hardship" on the family, who have lived in their northwest Glendale home for 14 years. Councilmen Carl Raggio, Larry Zarian and Dick Jutras also cited the size of the Haubenreisser family. Councilwomen Ginger Bremberg and Eileen Givens voted against the variance.

Brian Ellis, vice president of the homeowners association, said his group, which worked for adoption of the law, endorsed the few exceptions that were granted by zoning administrators because those expansions were minor.

But Ellis said his group opposes variances based on "emotional arguments" from families that homes are too small for their lifestyle. "The real issue is construction that is not sensitive to the neighborhood," Ellis said.

"We don't relish nor do we seek to fight with the city." he said. "But if the council is going to give variances left and right based on emotional pleas from applicants, then we have to fight."

The homeowners group, with more than 1,000 members, has raised about half of an estimated $10,000 for legal fees needed to challenge the issue, Ellis said. The lawsuit, filed by attorney Richard W. Marston, seeks recovery of legal fees from the city. Marston said he expects a hearing within 30 days.

City officials declined to comment, saying they had not been served with a copy of the lawsuit. The Haubenreissers could not be reached.

A similar appeal has been filed by another couple with three children seeking to expand their 1,818-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home to 3,313 square feet.

That appeal, by Martha R. Satrustegui of Ben Lomond Drive and her husband, is to come before the council Aug. 25.

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