15 Projects Need Neighbors' OK

The Torrance City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an interim procedure that will require 15 Torrance property owners to win approval from their neighbors before they can begin work to tear down or substantially rebuild their homes.

The 15 projects were left in limbo last week when the council adopted an emergency ordinance that limits the floor area of single-family dwellings to 60% of lot area. The projects, which exceed that limit, now cannot proceed until neighbors either approve plans or fail to comment after being notified by letter.

If a project is controversial, the matter may be appealed to the City Council, a process that planning officials said can take several months.

Several property owners objected to the new procedure, but Mayor Katy Geissert defended the approach. "It's been a tough issue," she said. "There are people who are really up-tight on both sides. . . . We are honestly trying to be fair."

The interim procedure will apply only to those 15 projects. Any new proposals that exceed the 60% limit will be unable to proceed until the city completes a study on permanent size and height limits for single-family homes.

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