Planners Propose Strict Building Rules in Effort to Fight ‘Mansionization’


Glendale city planners, attempting to curb “mansionization,” have proposed stringent building restrictions on all new single-family residences and all but minor home improvements.

The proposed restrictions upon a dwelling’s height, size, landscaping and parking are aimed at limiting the number of houses being torn down and replaced by new ones that nearly fill the lots, said John McKenna, Glendale’s director of planning, in a report released Friday.

The guidelines would make permanent most of the building restrictions established under a controversial temporary ordinance in September, 1989. That ordinance required that all new buildings and additions greater than 700 square feet be approved by the city’s Design Review Board.

That ordinance was praised by some homeowners but criticized by others as restricting residents’ freedom to design their houses the way they like. City planners said this week that the proposed new guidelines would allow a homeowner to exercise his or her imagination but would prevent designs that clash in size with neighboring properties.


“The guidelines, I believe, are sufficiently broad to allow a wide variety of development,” said Jim Glaser, director of planning services. “I don’t think the ordinance in itself diminishes any creativity.”

In another report issued Friday, planners analyzed Glendale’s 23 neighborhoods, grouped them by style of houses into six districts and suggested general planning standards for each district.

Glaser said several community meetings will be held before the building revisions are presented to the Planning Commission and City Council for approval. The first meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Sparr Heights Community Center, 1613 Glencoe Way.

The proposed new guidelines would limit new construction to two stories, except on steeply sloped hillside lots where three stories would be allowed, and would require a standard front setback of 15 feet. They would require that 40% of a lot be landscaped and that extra parking spaces be added, depending on the size of the addition or new residence.

The proposed regulations also would change the role of the Design Review Board. The temporary ordinance allowed the board to remove restrictions if the building was compatible with the neighborhood and would not go beyond the standards set by surrounding neighborhoods.

Under the new guidelines, the board would be allowed to impose tougher restrictions than specified by city zoning laws, but would not be authorized to grant exemptions. Instead, developers would have to obtain a variance through the city’s zoning department, Glaser said.

City planners said they hope the revised regulations will prevent development of one oversized house in a neighborhood with smaller homes.

The mansionization issue arose in July, 1989, when Northwestern Glendale Homeowners Assn. members complained to the council about a large house being constructed in their neighborhood.


After two public debates over the issue, the council in September, 1989, adopted the temporary ordinance until planners could draft permanent regulations.