House project back to drawing board

The Paredes family of La Crescenta has owned a 28,686-square-foot lot on Robin Hill Road in La Cañada Flintridge for 23 years. They’re trying, for the second time, to build a home there. Even after gaining approval from the Planning Commission, however, the family has run afoul of neighbors who are worried about mansionization. And the City Council appears to share that concern.

At the City Council meeting Monday, a large contingent of La Cañada citizens turned out to see the council rule on an appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval. In a meeting that went past midnight, the council voted unanimously to prevent the house from being built as proposed.

Councilman Donald Voss said he believes the house being proposed is too big.

“I’m speaking for myself and not the other council members, but I think the size of the house, measured up against the slope-factor guideline, is extreme,” said Voss. “That house, as proposed, is just completely inconsistent with both the letter and the spirit of the hillside ordinance.”

Christian Paredes, the son of Juan and Monica Paredes, who own the property, said that the family has worked closely since 2009 with the planning department to ensure that their proposed two-story house would fit in.

The house would measure 3,000 sq. ft. in its current design, down from the 4,600 sq. ft. of the previous iteration,

“We do not see it as ‘mansionization,’ our project. We’ve taken steps to decrease the size of the home,” said Paredes. “Our goal was not to be set apart, our goal was to be compatible with the immediate neighborhood.”

Paredes, who with his younger brother Kevin attended St. Francis High School in La Cañada, said that the family’s whole motivation for the project was their desire to be a part of the La Cañada community.

The family currently lives in La Crescenta.

“We are involved in the community a lot, the only thing missing is that we don’t live in the community. That’s the one thing, and that is our main goal. That’s my parents’ dream and that’s my dream,” Paredes said.

Voss said that it is unfair to ask the Paredes family to play a “guessing game,” so the council asked staff to provide an analysis of previous homes that had been built under the hillside ordinance so that the council can have some guidance.

“I’m hopeful … we can get a sense for what has been kind of the pattern of approval of hillside ordinance houses where the slope factor has come into play, and try to overlap that, or integrate that, into the consideration for this particular item,” said Voss.

The slope of the Paredes’ lot averages 63%, according to the city planning department.

Mel Blaney, who filed the appeal of the planning commission approval, lives on Hampstead Road, upslope from the proposed house. Blaney said that he, along with the other appellants, were trying to maintain La Cañada’s unique qualities.

“We … wanted to preserve the unique character of La Cañada Flintridge,” said Blaney. “It’s quiet, it’s lush, it’s got old growth.”

Blaney said that the people signing the appeal are worried about the appearance of “these very large homes perched very precariously on very steep slopes. You see it in Hollywood, you see it in Glendale, you see it in Los Angeles.”

“The [hillside] ordinance is there to prevent that,” said Blaney. “We feel, if you’re going to bend it once, you set a very dangerous precedent.”

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