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

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

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