Council Delays Vote on Plan for 'Mansionization' Control

The Los Angeles City Council last week debated but finally delayed until this week a vote on a long-awaited plan for tough rules on home construction and remodeling projects in hillside neighborhoods.

The hillside ordinance, opposed by building industry representatives, is designed to stop the trend toward building mansion-sized houses on comparatively small lots and to make hillside neighborhoods safer and more accessible to emergency vehicles.

The rules place new height limits on hillside houses and prohibit a house from covering more than 40% or 45% of a lot. Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, a supporter of the rules, said the "mansionization" trend has resulted in the "obscene development" of houses so big that they overpower the environment.

The regulations require that new homes in the hills be equipped with automatic fire safety sprinkler systems and that sprinklers also be installed when major remodeling work is done on existing houses.

To reduce the number of parked cars on narrow hillside streets, the proposal would also require builders to provide at least three off-street parking spaces for new houses and remodeling jobs that result in structures of more than 2,400 square feet.

Councilman Michael Woo, who supports the plan, said the lack of off-street parking has made it difficult for emergency vehicles to navigate narrow, serpentine hillside streets. He cited the example of an elderly woman who died, he said, when an ambulance could not reach her in time.

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