L.A. councilman proposes tightening rules against ‘mansionization’

Bea Samples walks past a home under construction in her Faircrest Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles in March.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz wants the city to tighten its rules against “mansionization” amid an outpouring of complaints about big, boxy homes overshadowing their smaller neighbors.

As the economy recovers and housing values bounce back, “there’s too many opportunities for developers to build these giant, blocky McMansions,” Koretz said. “There’s a profit motive to destroy neighborhoods.”

The Baseline Mansionization Ordinance was crafted six years ago to curb the size of new and remodeled homes, depending on the size of the lot they sit on. But the ordinance has sometimes fallen short of its goals because of “counterproductive provisions,” Koretz wrote in a motion introduced Friday.


Under the existing rules, builders can get a bonus to build 20% or 30% larger than ordinarily allowed if they design their homes to be environmentally friendly, or if they design the home so that the facades or floors fit certain proportions. Some Los Angeles homeowners argue that such bonuses have become a mansionization loophole, allowing builders to keep building homes too large for their lots.

Architects and builders behind some criticized projects contend that larger homes are needed to meet the demands of modern families. Added restrictions on building size imposed by Beverly Grove and other L.A. neighborhoods worried about mansionization are too onerous, they argue.

“You’re putting a ceiling on what people can do with their properties,” Realtor Ron Maman told The Times earlier this year. Maman said he had relocated from Beverly Grove to Encino because he couldn’t expand his home for his family under the tighter neighborhood rules.

In his proposal, Koretz took aim at the bonuses and other exemptions in the rules, arguing that they had continued to allow “out-of-scale” development. For instance, allowing “green” homes to be built larger ultimately encourages larger homes that use more energy, the councilman argued.

“I want to examine the possibility of eliminating all of these bonuses,” Koretz said Friday.

His proposal will go to a council committee focused on planning. If the council ultimately approves his motion, city officials would draw up new rules for the council to approve.


Former city planner and longtime Beverly Grove resident Dick Platkin, who has criticized the existing city ordinance as too loose, said he and other residents were pleased to see Koretz take the step toward altering the mansionization rules but plan to watch closely as any new rules are drafted.

“Will the amendments ... be effective enough to really stop mansionization, or will it be more window dressing?” Platkin asked.