2 Measures on Height Limits Put on Ballot

Manhattan Beach residents go to the polls March 4 to vote on two measures that will decide a complicated issue setting height limits for about 300 residential lots located mostly near the beach.

In September 1995, the City Council passed an ordinance to change the way that builders determine the height of residential structures sharing the same sloping lot. The ordinance said the building on the upper portion of the lot could be slightly higher than the lower building. A similar ordinance had been in effect until 1993, when the council ordered that rooftops be on the same level.

Some residents objected to the 1995 law, saying that it would raise some building heights an average of three to five feet. After more than 4,000 signatures were gathered, two measures were placed on the ballot. Meanwhile, the ordinance was suspended while the ballot measures are pending.

Voting no on Measure A would maintain the building code that keeps the same height level for buildings on the same lot. Voting yes on Measure B would make it mandatory that the majority of voters approve any changes in the city’s residential height or density codes.


Don McPherson, who opposes the higher height limits, said the 1995 city ordinance would add height and density to the beach area and make it more congested.

But City Councilman Tim Lilligren supports the 1995 ordinance because it avoids “a canyon” effect that happens when buildings have the same height level. He admits that it has been a complicated issue to explain. “I have talked to 400 people and nobody understands it,” he said.