Mid City West Supports Efforts To Curtail “McMansions”

Cary Brazeman

The Los Angeles City Council has created temporary anti-mansionization zones in several areas of the city including the Fairfax area, the Miracle Mile area and the North Beverly Grove area. More information is available on the city’s website at http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2014/14-0656_ord_183497.pdf. In addition to advocating for permanent anti-mansionization zones in these areas, Mid City West Community Council has voted to support the study and creation of a Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, and to urge city efforts to encourage the preservation of vintage multifamily properties (1920s, 30s and 40s) all across Mid City West.

The Mid City West Community Council has voted twice in recent months to support efforts by our city councilmembers, Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge, to curtail the mansionization of single-family homes in residential neighborhoods.

In October, the board of directors voted 24-0 to support Councilman Koretz’s proposal to reform the citywide Baseline Mansionization Ordinance. The ordinance, intended to curtail mansionization, has proven to be riddled with loopholes. In December, the board voted to support the study of a new anti-mansionization zone for North Beverly Grove and a new Historic Preservation Overlay Zone for the Miracle Mile area.

Mid City West in many ways has been “Ground Zero” in the fight to curtail McMansions across Los Angeles. Mid City West includes some of the most desirable center-city neighborhoods in L.A., with a critical mass of quality housing stock that dates back a half century or more.

The Mid City West Community Council’s geographic boundaries generally encompass the area between La Brea on the east, Doheny on the west, West Hollywood on the north and San Vicente on the south.

The trend toward McMansions, which generally refers to houses of a much larger scale than have been common in an area previously, is a national phenomenon often pitting neighbor against neighbor in battles over community character, compatibility, history, zoning regulations and private property rights.

One of the city’s strongest anti-mansionization zones already in place is the Beverly Grove Residential Floor Area district.  (General boundaries of this zone include Colgate on the north, Fairfax on the east, Lindenhurst on the south and San Vicente on the west.) The proposed new North Beverly Grove anti-mansionization zone would be similar in its regulatory approach. Its boundaries are proposed to be La Cienega on the west, Rosewood/Melrose on the north, Crescent Heights on the east and Third Street on south. These zones are targeted to single-family homes.

Many on the community council would like to see anti-mansionization regulations extended to cover the entire Mid City West area, including some way to address the continuing demolition of vintage duplexes and apartment buildings that so define the community character.

Dick Platkin, a former L.A. City planner, and Shelley Wagers are among the community leaders who have taken the lead in advocating for reform on this set of issues. Platkin and Wagers live in Mid City West.

Other Planning & Land Use News

In other planning and land use news, the neighborhood council has taken a strong position in support of the preservation of Norm’s diner (the Googie-style architectural landmark) on La Cienega. Also under review by Mid City West: the planned Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum at Wilshire and Fairfax, LACMA expansion, and the planned residential and retail tower on the old Loehmann’s site on La Cienega.