Miracle Mile Demolition Ban Approved

Miracle Mile
Demolition Ban Approved
 

City Enacts Two-Year Interim Control Ordinance
to Stop McMansions

 Click map to enlarge.

On March 25, 2015, the Los Angeles City Council approved two Interim Control Ordinances [ICOs]: one ordinance prohibited demolitions and substantial alterations of single family homes in five proposed Historic Preservation Overlay Zones [HPOZ], and the second ordinance limits the scale of new home construction in 15 additional neighborhoods, including the Miracle Mile. Both ordinances took effect immediately upon adoption.

The ICOs were enacted for an initial 45-day period, during which they may be renewed in six-month periods for up to two years. Given that they were “urgency” measures adopted (by a vote of 15–0) as a result of intense political pressure from neighborhoods under attack throughout the City, it is highly unlikely that the City Council will not routinely extend the ICOs for a full two-year period – but the MMRA and other ICO communities will be vigilant.

The ordinances are intended to provide immediate relief from demolitions in areas experiencing the deleterious impacts of new “super-sized” homes – providing time for the Department of City Planning to execute a much needed reform of the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance [BMO], which has been wholly ineffective in stopping the spread of McMansions.

The ICO prohibits the issuing of any building permit in the Miracle Mile unless the proposed structure complies with the regulations set forth in the Beverly Grove Residential Floor Area District, which was adopted by the City Council in October 2013 to stop the unchecked spread of McMansions in that community.

The Miracle Mile Residential Association requested identical regulations when it applied for a Residential Floor Area District [RFA] for R-1 zoned properties within its boundaries in September 2014.

The Miracle Mile’s pending RFA application qualified its inclusion in the ICO. The MMRA is pursuing RFA status as stopgap measure to protect our community while we are engaged in the more time consuming process of creating the Miracle Mile HPOZ. Unlike RFAs, which only apply to single-family homes and have no design guidelines, an HPOZ would provide more exacting and durable protection for both historic homes and multi-unit apartment buildings.


The La Brea-Hancock area also received similiar ICO protection as the Miracle Mile. The graphic below depicts how their community has been overwhelmed by McMansions:


Click on image to enlarge. Courtesy of La Brea Hancock HOA.

For additional information:

MMRA website: HPOZ and RFA information

City of Los Angeles: Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) for 15 Neighborhood Conservation Areas

Los Angeles Times Editorial: Interim McMansion Law is a Fit Addition for Some Areas

Miracle Mile HPOZ Update • March 15, 2015

From the MMRA Newsletter, March 15, 2015:

Miracle Mile HPOZ Update

 

A prerequisite to applying for a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) is the preparation of an Historic Resources Survey. According to the Department of City Planning’s Office of Historic Resources:

The survey details the historic and architectural significance of the neighborhood and identifies structures and features as either “contributing” or “non-contributing” to the district. A contributing structure is a building that was constructed during the predominant period of development in the neighborhood and that has retained most of its historic features. A non-contributing structure is one that was either constructed after the major period of the neighborhood’s development, or has been so significantly altered that it no longer conveys its historic character.

Once the historic resources survey is completed, it is reviewed by Department of City Planning staff for completeness and accuracy. The Department of City Planning also holds public workshops and hearings in the community before taking the HPOZ through the adoption process. An HPOZ becomes effective only after the completed Historic Resources Survey is certified by the Cultural Heritage Commission. Because the HPOZ includes changes to zoning within the proposed area, it must be adopted as an ordinance by the City Planning Commission and the full City Council, following full public hearings.

The Miracle Mile Residential Association’s HPOZ Committee is currently reviewing bids from two firms that specialize in conducting Historic Resource Surveys. Chair Mark Zecca and C0-Chair Jeremy Matz will present the committee’s recommendation to the MMRA Board of Directors at their next meeting on March 19, 2015.

It is expected that the board will take prompt action and that the survey will commence shortly thereafter. It is estimated that it will take six months to complete the survey of the approximately 1600 properties within the proposed Miracle Mile HPOZ boundaries.

The HPOZ Committee’s next task will be to develop a comprehensive outreach and fundraising campaign. The MMRA has limited resources and it is imperative that property owners and renters contribute to subsidizing the cost of commissioning the Historic Resources Survey – an HPOZ will protect the interests of everyone in the Miracle Mile.

If you have questions or would like to participate in helping to secure HPOZ protection for the Miracle Mile please contact HPOZ Committee chair Mark Zecca: phlaidian@gmail.com

For additional information:

Office of Historic Resources: Historic Preservation Overlay Zones 

Miracle Mile Residential Association website: HPOZ & RFA Info

Another McMansion Underway in the Miracle Mile

Another McMansion Underway
in the Miracle Mile

While the Community Waits for City Approval 
of a Temporary Demolition Ban

 A house at 936 South Burnside Avenue was demolished last week to make way for another McMansion. The 1,836 sq. ft. home on a 7700 sq. ft. lot was a probate sale that fetched $1.2 million in October 2014. The property was purchased by Skyan Holdings, LLC., a local development company.

It is readily apparent from the plans submitted to the Department of City Planning that a new two-story McMansion will be constructed on the site. [Here is a link to the plan check and permits issued to date.]

In a conversation with a representative of the developer, a neighbor learned that the developer had rushed to secure a demolition permit in December 2014 because they were aware that the Miracle Mile is on a list of neighborhoods to be included in a pending two-year Interim Control Ordinance [ICO] that would impose temporary restrictions to stop or limit demolitions in areas with pending applications for either a Reduced Floor Area District [RFA] or an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone [HPOZ].

The ICO was presented at the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management [PLUM] Committee in October 2014. The MMRA submitted a request to create an RFA to Councilmember Tom LaBonge last September to serve as a stopgap measure to allow time for implementation of the Miracle Mile HPOZ. LaBonge placed the Miracle Mile on the ICO list, which includes 14 other communities throughout Los Angeles.

A draft of the ICO was released on February 12, 2015. In the proposed ordinance the Miracle Mile is grouped with South Hollywood, La Brea Hancock Neighborhood, Larchmont Heights, and Old Granada Hills, it reads: “… no building permit shall issue for a Project … unless the proposed structure’s Residential Floor Area does not exceed 120% of the prior existing structure’s Residential Floor Area.”

The MMRA is confident that the Draft ICO, if enacted as written, would effectively stop mansionization in the Miracle Mile. Although, we are continuing to examine the Draft ICO to make certain it contains no loopholes. The MMRA is also concerned that it still allows McMansions in the very early stages of the permitting and approval process to proceed; we will lobby to have these exceptions tightened.

Map of Miracle Mile ICO. Click image to enlarge.

The PLUM Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the ICO on February 24 at 2:30PM. The committee will take public comments and will vote to send the ICO to the full City Council for approval. It appears certain that the Council will adopt the ICO once it is sent to them, but it is critical that the Miracle Mile community turnout in force at the PLUM hearing to ensure that the ICO is not watered-down to accommodate real estate speculators and developers.

Meanwhile, while ICOs are lazily drafted and approved in slow motion, the McMansion developers are playing a game of beat the clock.

A recent New York Times article on mansionization in Los Angeles stated: “… the destruction of thousands of classic homes is disrupting and dividing neighborhoods, raising alarm among civic leaders about potentially irreparable damage to handsome, historic and architecturally distinctive communities that they argue define Los Angeles as much as Hollywood or Venice.

“The phenomenon has left some homeowners living under the shadow of looming block houses that push up against their property lines. Often, the first warning that a neighbor’s home is about to vanish comes from the beep-beep-beep of bulldozers that arrive overnight and can turn a home into a pile of wood and stone by lunchtime.”

That was certainly the case for the neighbors of 936 South Burnside Avenue.

      
808 South Ridgeley Drive • Before and After

For additional information:

Los Angeles City Attorney ICO Report 

Draft ICO, 12 Feb. 2015

New York Times, 6 Feb. 2015: In Los Angeles, Vintage Houses Are Giving Way to Bulldozers

Los Angeles Times, 30 Jan. 2014: McMansions Eat Up Traditional Backyards as Interiors Trump Exteriors

CityWatch L.A., 30 Jan. 2014: Dirty Little Secrets about Mansionization in Los Angeles

Strong Community Support for Miracle Mile HPOZ

Large Turn Out at January 10th Meeting

Approximately 100 residents attended the Miracle Mile Historic Protection Overlay Zone [HPOZ] Meeting on January 10th at Candela/Leonardo’s Night Club. Sponsored by the Miracle Mile Residential Association [MMRA] and hosted by Mark Zecca, MMRA board member and chairperson of the HPOZ committee, the meeting featured a panel composed of Shannon Ryan from the L.A. Office of Historic Resources-HPOZ Unit and Robbie O’Donnell, a founder of the Wilshire Park HPOZ.

Last May the MMRA board of directors created an HPOZ committee to do fact-finding, gather the input of residents and property owners, and report on how an HPOZ might be designed and implemented. The board’s action was sparked by the spread of mansionization into the Miracle Mile.

The HPOZ committee conducted a series of informal meetings with residents and consulted with experts – including Michelle Levy, head of the HPOZ Unit at the Department of City Planning, and Katie Horak, Senior Associate with Architectural Resources Group, Inc.

From left: Shannon Ryan, Robbie O’Donnell, Mark Zecca

The committee also launched an online poll [MMRA Mansionization-RFA-HPOZ Survey] to gauge community support. At the November 2014 MMRA Annual Meeting, which was attended by over 130 residents, a large showing of hands demonstrated interest in pursuing HPOZ protection for the Miracle Mile.

After months of research, outreach, and preparation, the HPOZ committee presented its findings to the community at the January 10th meeting. The advantages and disadvantages of an HPOZ were discussed in detail in a question and answer session following the opening presentation.

The meeting was videotaped and posted in two parts on the MMRA Channel on YouTube. Residents who did not attend the January 10th meeting are encouraged to view the meeting on YouTube. It offers a comprehensive examination of the benefits of HPOZ to our community and honestly examines the impact on property owners – and does so at greater length than can be recounted in this newsletter.

Click on image to view video.
 A

The residents attending the January 10th meeting demonstrated nearly unanimous support for seeking HPOZ status. This support is also reflected in the results of the online survey. As a result, the HPOZ committee will recommend to the MMRA board of directors at its February 5th meeting that the HPOZ application process be initiated and a motion to that effect will be introduced for adoption by the board.

The HPOZ committee will be holding a series of future community meetings to iron out the many details involved in creating an HPOZ: boundaries, design guidelines, financing the required architectural review, etc. For the latest updates and additional information visit the “HPOZ & RFA Info” page on the MMRA website: MiracleMileLA.com.

MMRA Mansionization-RFA-HPOZ Survey
Participate in the survey
View the results

2014 Annual Online Survey

[Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter, November 2014:]


Miracle Mile Residential Association
2014 Annual Online Survey

Click on map to enlarge.
In November 2013, the MMRA launched its first online survey of Miracle Mile residents to gain a better understanding of your attitudes and opinions on central issues, such as traffic and development. Last year’s poll had 114 respondents; the results can be reviewed here.

The 2014 annual survey repeats many of the key questions asked in last year’s survey, which will indicate how opinions have shifted (or not) in the past 12 months. While hardly a scientific survey, the poll provides a “snapshot” of the community and helps guide the MMRA in prioritizing our efforts. The Miracle Mile Residential Association is a consensus driven organization and polling helps to ensure that the actions of the MMRA reflect the will of the residents we represent.

The MMRA also uses more targeted polls to gauge opinions on single topic issues. Both the “MMRA Mansionization-RFA-HPOZ” and “LACMA Bridge Over Wilshire” surveys are still open. You can participate in those polls or view the results in the links below.

The annual poll is not just for residents living within the boundaries of the MMRA [see map above], we are also interested in how residents in neighboring areas feel, too. The survey will remain open until December 31, 2014. The results of the annual survey will be featured in the January 2015 newsletter.

We utilize SurveyMonkey for our polls; it is a secure and simple way to gather your input. Participation is completely anonymous and your honesty is welcomed. So, please take a few minutes to complete the poll – there are 60 questions with opportunities to make specific comments. And you can skip over the questions that don’t interest or apply to you.


2014 Miracle Mile Residential Association Annual Online Survey

Participate in the survey


MMRA Mansionization-RFA-HPOZ Survey (May 2014)

Participate in the survey
View the results


LACMA Bridge Over Wilshire Survey (July 2014)

Participate in the survey
View the results


Proposed Ban on Single Family Home Demolitions Includes Miracle Mile

 

Proposed Ban on Single Family Home
Demolitions Includes Miracle Mile

A tidal wave of complaints about mansionization – and the inability of the existing Baseline Mansionization Ordinance [BMO] to stop the spread of McMansions – has prompted the City Council to propose a stopgap measure to protect neighborhoods under attack. A plan presented October 7th at the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee would impose temporary restrictions to stop or limit demolitions in areas with pending applications for either a Reduced Floor Area District [RFA] or Historic Protection Overlay Zone [HPOZ].

The Miracle Mile Residential Association submitted a request to create a RFA to Councilmember Tom LaBonge on September 13th. LaBonge appeared at the City Council committee to place the Miracle Mile on the list of neighborhoods to be included in the proposed Interim Control Ordinance [ICO].

The ICO – which is still to be finalized before being brought to a vote of the full City Council – would prohibit all single-family home demolitions while allowing only interior remodels that retain all exterior walls and roofs orfeature a less restrictive option that could allow complete demolitions but limit new structures to 120% of the size of the previously legally existing structure. Either measure would effectively stop mansionization, but MMRA President James O’Sullivan and Vice President Ken Hixon informed the committee that the MMRA preferred the first option prohibiting single-family home demolitions entirely.

Nearby areas to be included on the list of protected neighborhoods are La Brea-Hancock and North Beverly Grove, which – like the Miracle Mile – are seeking RFA status, and Carthay Square, which has been waiting nearly four years for approval of its HPOZ. Staffing cuts to the Department of City Planning have created a logjam of pending RFAs and HPOZs. Developers have been exploiting this backlog to quickly build McMansions before protections are officially implemented.

An ICO is a temporary ordinance that is renewable in six-month increments for up to two years. It would stop mansionization in the most vulnerable areas and give the city time to reform the BMO and tighten zoning rules so that neighborhoods could have more say about the density and scale of new home construction and remodeling.

The ICO would protect the Miracle Mile while our RFA is developed and HPOZ protection is pursued. The proposed ICO clearly has the support of the entire City Council and it is anticipated that it will be approved and implemented by the end of the year.

For additional information:

Los Angeles Times: Tighter L.A. ‘Mansionization’ Rules Coming Too Slowly, Critics Say

MMRA Request for Reduced Floor Area District, Sept. 13, 2014

MMRA Newsletter, September 2014: MMRA Pursues “Reduced Floor Area District” for R-1 Zoned Properties in Miracle Mile”

Los Angeles Times [Editorial]: L.A. is Bogged Down in Trying to Save Its Historic Structures

Los Angeles Times [Steve Lopez]: L.A. Should Act Quickly to Close Loopholes in Mansionization Ordinance

MMRA Pursues “Reduced Floor Area District”

[Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.]

 

MMRA Pursues “Reduced Floor Area District”

for R-1 Zoned Properties in the Miracle Mile

On September 4, 2014 the Miracle Mile Residential Association’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion in support of seeking Reduced Floor Area [RFA] District status for R-1 zoned properties in the Miracle Mile. On behalf of the board, MMRA President James O’Sullivan sent a letter to District 4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge formally requesting that he introduce a motion directing the Department of City Planning to draft a RFA overlay for the Miracle Mile limiting the base Floor Area Ratio to 0.42, increasing the side-yard setbacks of two-story homes and eliminating exemptions for over-height entries, balconies, covered porches, and attached garages.


The construction of a “McMansion” at 808 South Ridgeley [right] has galvanized the community to take this action. The implementation of a RFA would plug loopholes in the existing Baseline Mansionization Ordinance [BMO] and stop the construction of additional “super-sized” homes. A RFA would also serve as a stopgap measure to preserve the scale of our neighborhood while the community continues to do the consensus building required to create a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone [HPOZ] that would protect the traditional design and fabric of the Miracle Mile.The MMRA had hoped that recent efforts to reform the BMO would make this step unnecessary, but there is no relief in sight. The Miracle Mile is surrounded by HPOZs and by other neighborhoods that have already secured or are actively pursuing RFA status thwarting mansionization. It is apparent – given our lack of RFA and/or HPOZ status – that the Miracle Mile has become an easy and obvious target for developers of McMansions.A Reduced Floor Area District [see map] would limit the square footage for new construction and the remodeling of existing homes. It would only apply to single-family homes that are zoned R-1. Details of the proposed ordinance are contained in the letter the MMRA sent to Councilmember LaBonge [click here to read letter].

 

Click on map to enlarge.

 

Once the Department of City Planning launches the process of drafting a RFA overlay for the Miracle Mile they will hold a series of public hearings and workshops to garner community input. Although less time consuming and complex than creating an HPOZ, a RFA could take as long as a year (or more) to implement due to budget cuts and staffing shortages at the Department of City Planning – and the fact that the department is being deluged by new RFA applications from communities across the City that are desperate to stop mansionization. In Council District 4 alone there are already four RFAs waiting for action – the Miracle Mile would be the fifth RFA in this holding pattern.

It is a sad commentary on the state of our City that our leaders lack the political will to reform the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance in order to protect our historic and traditional neighborhoods from the intrusion of mansionization – and that residents must resort to creating RFA Districts to stop what the BMO was expressly intended to prevent. But it is very clear that our residents are ready to take any and all actions necessary to protect the quality of life in the Miracle Mile.

For additional information:

MMRA Declares War on McMansions!

Los Angeles Times Finally Starts to Report on the Mansionization Story

Preliminary Results of the Mansionization-HPOZ-RFA Survey

Mansionization Threatens Miracle Mile

MMRA Declares War on McMansions!

MMRA DECLARES
WAR
ON McMANSIONS!

The Miracle Mile Residential Association [MMRA] has launched a three-front battle to stop mansionization. The Miracle Mile has become an easy target for builders of McMansions due to the fact that surrounding neighborhoods have successfully thwarted such development by becoming Historical Protection Overlay Zones [HPOZ] or Reduced Floor Area Districts [RFA].

A “super-sized” home under construction at 808 South Ridgeley Drive has galvanized the community [see “before” and “after” photos above]. Such development presents a clear threat to the historic fabric, scale, and livability of the Miracle Mile. After consulting with residents, real estate professionals, and other land use experts, the MMRA Board of Directors has concluded that, indeed, the Miracle Mile is a prime target for speculators looking to make a fast buck by demolishing older homes and replacing them with McMansions. Immediate action is critical to protect our community.

Because of the urgency and fluidity of this situation, the MMRA Board of Directors has developed a three-pronged effort to stop mansionization in the Miracle Mile:

Reform the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance [BMO]: 

The City adopted the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance [BMO] in 2008 to prevent McMansions, but developers have skillfully exploited loopholes in the ordinance to circumvent restrictions on height and square footage. This resulted in a surge of mansionization in the Beverly Grove and La Brea/Hancock areas. Desperate to stop the destruction of their neighborhoods, these communities pursued becoming Reduced Floor Area Districts [RFA] to plug the many loopholes in the BMO.

Homeowner and residential associations, as well as other community organizations, have recently increased the pressure on the City Council to fix the BMO so that RFAs would not be needed to stop mansionization. Having an ever-growing number of RFAs created throughout L.A. would strain the already threadbare resources of the Department of City Planning. Reforming the BMO would protect Los Angeles neighborhoods and save the taxpayers money.

The MMRA has been lobbying City Hall to enact speedy reform of the BMO. The City Council Planning and Land Use Management [PLUM] Committee held a public hearing this month that attracted a large showing of community representatives clamoring for revisions to the BMO. The PLUM Committee gave the Department of City Planning a month to come back with suggestions on how to change the ordinance.

The MMRA is closely monitoring the actions of the PLUM Committee and will continue to exert pressure to eliminate the loopholes in the BMO.

Creating a Reduced Floor Area District [RFA] in the Miracle Mile:

Should the City Council falter or fail to eliminate all of the loopholes in the BMO, it is the consensus of the MMRA Board of Directors that the Miracle Mile should immediately seek the protections of RFA status. A Residential Floor Area Overlay district [RFA] is a zoning tool available for single-family residential neighborhoods to tailor citywide size and height development regulations to the particular needs of the community.

At its next meeting on September 4, 2014, the MMRA board will assess whether sufficient progress has been made by the City Council to reform the BMO. If – at that time – there is no evidence of movement towards substantial reform of the BMO, the MMRA will launch an outreach and petition campaign to create the Miracle Mile Reduced Floor Area District. The MMRA would pursue the same regulations contained within the Beverly Grove RFA, which was instituted in October 2013. [Click here to read the Beverly Grove RFA.]

An RFA can be created in much less time than an HPOZ – and time is of the essence in stopping mansionization. Hopefully, reform of the BMO will make this step unnecessary.

Creation the Miracle Mile Historical Protection Overlay Zone [HPOZ]:

The Miracle Mile is currently being subjected to a tidal wave of new development – mansionization is just one aspect of the many threats our community confronts. The MMRA created an HPOZ Committee last May to explore HPOZ protection for the Miracle Mile. The committee was instructed to do fact-finding, seek the input of residents and property owners, and report on how an HPOZ might be designed and implemented.

Although the committee’s work is in the preliminary stages, it is already apparent that an HPOZ is the only means available to ensure the historic continuity, appearance, and scale of our community. An HPOZ would help to level the playing field that is heavily weighted in favor of real estate speculators and developers – and the politicians who depend on their campaign contributions.

The push for an HPOZ has just begun in the Miracle Mile and it could take anywhere from two-to-four years to complete the intricate process of creating an HPOZ.  So, although an HPOZ would be the most effective way to stop mansionization – as well as institute design standards that would preserve the fabric of our neighborhood – it is not a “quick fix.”

Reform of the BMO and/or the creation of a RFA would stop mansionization and buy the community time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of an HPOZ. Mansionization must be stopped now – or there will be even less to preserve.

For additional information:

MMRA Newsletter [May 2014]:
Mansionization Threatens Miracle Mile

MMRA Newsletter [July 2014]:
Los Angeles Times Finally Starts to Report on Mansionization Story

 What’s your opinion? 

Miracle Mile Residential Association launched an online survey last May to solicit residents’ opinions regarding mansionization and the creation of an Historical Preservation Overlay Zone [HPOZ] and/or Reduced Floor Area District [RFA].

Take the “Mansionization–RFA–HPOZ” Survey

Read the survey results…

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