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City OKs New Exception to Anti-Mansion Guidelines : Remodeling: The homeowner argues that law regulating size of additions is too restrictive. The group that promoted the limits threatens more legal action.


GLENDALE — For the second time since June, the Glendale City Council has granted an exception to the city's anti-mansionization law, prompting a threat of renewed legal action by the homeowner group that promoted the restrictions on the size of house additions.

Tuesday's 3-2 vote gives Martha R. Satrustegui permission to enlarge her home on Ben Lomond Drive from 1,818 square feet to 3,313 square feet, exceeding guidelines of a law adopted in April, 1991, to prevent so-called mansionization of neighborhoods by construction of oversized homes on standard lots.

Mayor Carl Raggio and Councilmen Larry Zarian and Dick Jutras voted to grant the appeal after Satrustegui argued that the city's rules are too restrictive to allow her to build a house large enough to accommodate the needs of her family of five.

Satrustegui plans to add 1,500 square feet to her three-bedroom, two-bath home by building a second story with four bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths. The addition exceeds by 500 square feet the allowable addition to her 52-year-old house.

The action is expected to be finalized Nov. 10 when the council must adopt four reasons for granting an exception to the rules. Councilwomen Ginger Bremberg and Eileen Givens voted against the variance, saying the personal needs of the family should not be a consideration. Variances are generally allowed when the physical limitations of a lot, such as the size and shape, create a hardship in complying with the rules.

A similar request, granted on the same vote this summer to a family with four teen-age daughters, prompted a lawsuit by the Northwest Glendale Homeowners' Assn., which charged that granting exceptions based on family need could bring a flood of requests seeking to circumvent the city's new rules.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert H. O'Brien earlier this month rejected the homeowners' petition when he ruled that the City Council followed appropriate guidelines in granting a variance to Rudy and Georgene Haubenreisser for expansion of their home on Spazier Avenue.

The homeowner group, which has 1,200 members, has threatened further legal action. The association was formed after a number of oversized homes were built in the area, which has lot sizes larger than most in the city.

The law separates neighborhoods into three districts, with maximum home sizes ranging from 30% of lot size on larger properties to 45% on smaller lots. The law is designed to ensure that new homes and additions are compatible in size with existing homes in the neighborhood.

However, Satrustegui and the Haubenreissers argued that the 30% limitation in their neighborhoods is too restrictive.

Since the rules were adopted, 12 homeowners have applied for variances. Six were granted, largely for minor deviations, four were denied and two have not yet been decided by the zoning administrator. City officials said the number of requests for variances is relatively small compared to 346 building permits issued since the law was adopted.

However, council members have called for a study session within a few weeks to reconsider the rules. Members of the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn. have vowed to fight vehemently to retain the current limitations.

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