A special meeting has been scheduled at a special time, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, in the City Council Chamber to review Planning Commission
recommendations to stem the tide of “mansionization.” Mansionization
is a term coined for large homes built on small lots that are often
much larger than their neighbors’ houses.
The commission recommends better training for board members,
better explanation of the review intent and rules to new board
members and the public. Existing rules should be simplified and
interpretations counter to the original intent should be eliminated.
Commissioners were unanimous in rejecting new rules that would set
absolute numerical limits on structure sizes. They believe that that
appearance of the structure in context with the neighborhood is the
“Community character was a big issue in the vision process,” said
Commissioner Anne Johnson, who was a member of the Vision Laguna
Steering Committee. “The Planning Commission proposals that the
council will review Tuesday address many of those concerns.”
Commissioners held 14 meetings between Aug. 8, 2001, and Aug. 14,
2002, seeking public input on ways to moderate the size or appearance
of size in new homes or remodels. The Design Review Board and the
Laguna Beach Architects Guild contributed to the process.
“The three most controversial recommendations will be the method
of measuring the height of structures, prohibiting any intrusion into
the sideyard setbacks and requiring only two-car garages,” Johnson
Four of the five Planning Commissioners have served on the city’s
Design Review Board. Their findings basically endorsed the
conclusions reached in 1993 by the Design Review Task Force, which
concluded that “conditions existing in our community require a
site-specific, discretionary design review performed by a qualified,
well-trained board, applying standards and procedures that are
accessible and understood by all participants.”
The commissioners found that interpretation of existing
regulations had changed considerably in the last decade, particularly
in regard to height limits, which resulted in some structures
exceeding the 36-foot limit.
Turnover in the board membership accounts for some of the changes
in interpretation, the commission decided. Also, three changes in
staff liaison in the past decade disrupted continuity and
The public is encouraged to attend the meeting. Copies of the
commission recommendations are available for review at the front
counter in City Hall.