Los Angeles Curbs ‘Mansionization’ With Home-Size Limits
During the Los Angeles real estate boom that began in 2002 and peaked five years later, developers built multistory homes with more square footage than their lots had as a way of raising prices. Now, as property values recover after a 21-month slump, the city is curbing the size of single-family homes to prevent so-called McMansions from being built in such neighborhoods as Hollywood and in the Santa Monica Mountains.
“When the good times were rolling and people were basically flipping homes to make a lot of money, they added on and redid houses, and they didn’t really care about the neighborhoods,” Renee Weitzer, chief of land use planning for City Councilman Tom LaBonge, said in a telephone interview. “We have some pictures of neighborhoods where one home overpowers the look of the entire street.”
An ordinance signed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last week limits new hillside homes to about 3,000 square feet (280 square meters) on a typical 5,000-square-foot lot. Developers had been allowed to build a 7,000-square-foot, multilevel home on a 5,000-square-foot lot, Weitzer said.
The law, focused on hillside homes, is the final step in a three-part initiative intended to stop oversized developments on single-family home plots in the city. The first step was the June 2008 adoption of the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, which limited the size and height of homes on flat lots, and the second was the creation of new maps to more accurately show the city’s hillsides.
LaBonge introduced the plan in 2006, when property values were almost at their peak.
The median home price in Los Angeles County more than doubled to $599,000 in mid-2007 from $245,000 at the beginning of 2002, according to DataQuick Information Systems Inc., a San Diego-based real estate research company. Property values tumbled during the recession and are 47 percent below their peak. They have gained 7.8 percent from their May 2009 low.