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City to review Burbank’s views

Ben Godar

Hillside residents are concerned that large additions to homes and

other developments are blocking their views and lowering their

property values. While the City Council is looking into developing an


ordinance that would limit building heights, some council members say

such regulations are a difficult balancing act.

Louise Penn, a resident in the 1200 block of Alta Paseo, gathered

more than a dozen letters from her neighbors asking the city to enact


a view-protection ordinance. Penn’s own view was blocked recently by

a 7-foot chain-link fence, and she said without an ordinance,

hillside homeowners risk losing property value.

“I think we desperately need an ordinance so when people move in,

they have some guidelines and know you just don’t do that,” she said.

“A lot of people don’t care. They’ll just put up a three-story home

and block your entire view.”

Penn was one of several hillside residents who appeared before the


council July 29 to ask members for their help in preventing the

so-called “mansionization” of the area. Mayor Stacey Murphy said the

council needs to take action to help those residents maintain their

property values.

“When you bought your house, you bought it with that view,” Murphy

said. “What we’re talking about is changing your initial investment.”

The council voted unanimously to authorize Community Development

Department staffers to find consultants to aid in a two-step process


that could result in a possible ordinance. The consultant will first

be asked to solicit public input on a view ordinance, and if the

community desires, develop that ordinance. The consultant will be

paid between about $5,000 and $7,000 to gauge public opinion, and

about $30,000 to $35,000 to develop the measure.

While all council members agreed to examine a potential ordinance,

Councilman Dave Golonski suggested that developing a mechanism to

regulate view protection would be no easy task.

“We have to balance protecting one neighbor’s view and another

neighbor’s right to have trees or develop their homes,” he said.

Even agreeing on what constitutes a view could be difficult,

Councilman Jef Vander Borght said. He pointed out that some might

want to see trees while others might not, and some might want to see

the mountains while others want to see the valley.

“Whose view are we worried about?” he said. “Is it your view or

your neighbor’s view? It’s really, really hard.”

Home construction is restricted by what city officials called

generous “mansionization” restrictions, with roof peaks required to

be less than 35 feet high and homes to take up no more than 60% of

their lots.

A consultant will probably not be hired until October or November,

and Assistant Planner John Bowler said the city plans to work with a

consultant experienced in view-protection ordinances.

“We want to hire a consultant with previous experience who can

talk about the limitations of view protection,” he said.