Panel Approves Strict Limits on ‘Mansionization’


In a victory for homeowners groups and the Chamber of Commerce, Glendale Planning Commission members this week reluctantly approved a proposal for stringent building restrictions on new single-family residences and many remodeling jobs.

The five-member commission voted unanimously to approve the guidelines, which regulate a house’s design, size, height, landscaping and parking. The City Council will consider the measure at a March 26 public hearing.

The chamber, the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn., and other homeowners groups in 1989 called for more restrictive design guidelines to curb “mansionization,” the building of large houses that nearly fill their lots in neighborhoods with mostly smaller houses.


At a hearing last month, several planning commissioners said the rules may overstep that goal by subjecting house designs and even moderate renovations to too much bureaucratic review. During a six-hour hearing Tuesday, they said they remained skeptical but agreed to approve the measures.

“This whole ordinance started out with several groups of upset homeowners, and it has snowballed,” Commissioner Robert McCormick said. “But we’re far past whether or not the basic concept is appropriate.”

The proposed guidelines would require approval by one of the city’s Design Review Boards for all new houses, additions greater than 700 square feet and any changes to a structure’s front facade that ordinarily require a building permit, said Jim Glaser, planning services administrator.

Among other things, the guidelines would limit a house and garage to 40% of a lot. They would also regulate the size, height and design of a house to ensure its compatibility with the neighborhood.

The regulations would also change the role of the Design Review Boards by allowing them to deny a permit for a new house or renovation deemed incompatible with the neighborhood, even if it meets all zoning requirements.

The commission on Monday also approved a proposal that would require the city to notify homeowners of major changes to neighboring properties. The city now merely posts at City Hall a Design Review Board agenda of such changes.