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Building Limits May Be Revised : Housing: Some council members say the high number of requests for exceptions, 11 so far, may indicate that the new rules are too stringent.


GLENDALE — The Glendale City Council on Tuesday agreed to reconsider stringent new rules regulating the size of houses after several members said the regulations may be too restrictive for some families.

The council in April, 1991, adopted a law limiting the size of new homes and additions to a percentage of the lot size to stop "mansionization," in which homes are built or expanded to become far larger than others in the neighborhood.

But officials postponed action for 60 days on a request by a family of five seeking to exceed the rules. Martha R. Satrustegui of Ben Lomond Drive has asked for a variance to add a second story with additional bedrooms and baths to her 52-year-old, 1,818-square-foot home. The rules would limit her addition to about 1,000 square feet, which she said is not enough to accommodate her family.

The request is one of 11 filed since the new law was adopted. The council in June voted 3 to 2 to grant a similar variance to another couple with four teen-age daughters. The couple say their 55-year-old, three-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath home on Spazier Avenue is too small.

The law separates neighborhoods into three districts, with maximum permitted home sizes ranging from 30% to 45% of lot sizes. Areas of the city with the largest lots, such as Northwest Glendale and parts of the Verdugo Woodlands, call for the lowest density in new construction.

However, several council members on Tuesday said those rules may be too restrictive. They asked planners to propose alternative formulas for the maximum size of homes, such as allowing a greater ratio for square footage on larger lots.

Mayor Carl Raggio said the number of requests for exceptions may indicate that the city's rules are too stringent. He said older homes with only one or two baths no longer suit the needs of families with children. He said the rules are "based on standards of 40 or 50 years ago" and inhibit families from modernizing their homes to meet current standards.

"Things have changed," said Councilman Larry Zarian, who said he was raised in a home that had only one bath but would consider that inadequate today.

The law was adopted after months of debate among homeowners and builders over what size homes are appropriate in neighborhoods.

The 1,000-member Northwest Glendale Homeowners' Assn. sued in July to halt the granting of variances based on family need. No hearing date has been set.

A planning department report on possible changes is to be brought back to the council before a public hearing Oct. 27 on the Ben Lomond variance.

Although zoning officials have granted five variances for minor deviations from the new rules, such as extra space for a staircase, the city staff and the Planning Commission had denied exceptions for the houses on Spazier and Ben Lomond, saying they would set precedents.

Two requests for variances also were denied but were not appealed to the council. Another two are pending before the zoning administrator.

Raggio, Zarian and Councilman Dick Jutras said the rules may need to be altered, but Councilwomen Ginger Bremberg and Eileen Givens voted earlier to strictly adhere to the new law. Bremberg and Givens agreed Tuesday, however, to at least consider alternatives.

Several homeowners objected to any changes, saying that granting exceptions based on the size of families is discriminatory and could open a floodgate of requests that would undermine the rules.

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