Sat, Dec

Serious McMansion Players are Fly-by-Night Contractors Engaged in Speculation

SOME CLARITY PLEASE-A recent article in the Park LaBrea News/Beverly Press (link) offered  detailed coverage of Councilmember Paul Koretz's proposed overlay ordinance to restrict McMansions in the Beverly Grove area.  Since I was interviewed for the article, I would like to offer a few clarifications:

● First, the name of the neighborhood which would have greater restrictions on McMansions is not Beverlywood.  It is Beverly Grove, which is part of the Beverly Wilshire Homes Association area.

● Second, there has never been an issue of the mansionizers intruding into required front, side, and rear yards.  The issue is the construction or enormous homes on the buildable area of lot.  As demonstrated by the photos in your article, the McMansions weigh in about 4,500 square feet.  This is usually three times the size of the older homes which were leveled to make way for the McMansions.  It is also twice the size of the average existing homes.

● Third, the required side yard is already 5 or 6 feet, which would be increased by at least one additional foot under the proposed ordinance.

● Fourth, the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance which governs Beverly Grove was adopted three years ago, not several months ago.  It allows local neighborhoods to adopt more stringent regulations if the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance is ineffective.  That is exactly what has happened in our case.  Despite this citywide ordinance, the McMansions have been steadily replacing older homes during the past three years.

● Fifth, two story homes have never been an issue in this neighborhood.  Like the one story homes, they were also build in the late 1920s and have the same architecture.

● Sixth, Beverly Grove has many example of older, original homes which have been sensitively updated, some adding an additional 1000 square feet, without intruding on their neighbors or becoming an eyesore.  These remodels could still be built under the proposed ordinance.

● Seventh, while some realtors are part of the growth machine constructing and selling McMansions, the serious players are fly-by-night contractors engaged in real estate speculation.  They use the realtors to quickly buy smaller homes, which are then demolished and replaced with McMansions built as spec houses.  These over-sized houses are not owner-occupied, but built and sold for quick profits.  

A good analogy would be strip mining in West Virginia.  There the mine companies quickly level one hill after another, leaving polluted valleys and streams in their wake.  In Beverly Grove the speculators quickly buy up one small house after another, knock them down, and build enormous houses for the market.   

The real issue is that about two-thirds of those who live in Beverly Grove consider their house a home in a beautiful community, while the realtors, contractors, and their small band of followers think that a house is just a piece of dirt and some boards to be quickly bought and sold like stocks, gold bullion, or pork bellies -- regardless of any adverse, long-term community impacts.

Hats off to Paul Koretz for showing leadership on this question.  Maybe his 14 colleagues on the City Council will follow his lead in their own Council Districts since mansionization is an issue throughout the entire city.

(Richard Platkin is a veteran planning professional and a homeowner in the Beverly-Wilshire area.)
Photo credit: Park LaBrea News-Beverly Press          -cw

Tags: mcmansions, Beverly Grove, Paul Koretz

Vol 9 Issue 67
Pub: Aug 23, 2011