BACK TALK - If Dick Platkin gets his way (CityWatch article “it's time to fix the citywide ordinance intended to stop the mansionization in LA”), your ability to improve your home will be severely limited and those of you with small run down homes will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you think I am exaggerating, read on … and I will illuminate facts that should scare the living daylights out of all home owners.
The Citywide Mansionization Ordinance was intended to stop overbuilding in residential neighborhoods. After thousands of man hours of study and outreach, the City of Los Angeles determined that single family home size should be limited to 3600sf on a 6000sf lot. The idea is to stop overbuilding while still encouraging the building of homes that will serve families now and into the future.
And for those neighborhoods that want their own special zoning laws … they can change their specific neighborhood zoning laws to anything they want with the support of the overwhelming majority of their neighbors.
Sounds good. Just one problem … there is a loophole in the new law that allows a Councilman to bypass the requirement for neighborhood support.
Here is how it used to work before the Mansionization Ordinance (using my actual neighborhood history):
In my neighborhood (Dick Platkin's neighborhood as well), a minority of residents decided that they did not like the new homes that were being built. They hated attached garages and two story additions. They tried to implement an HPOZ (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone) that would stop all new home building and improvements, but they could not garner enough signatures to even apply to the City for the overlay. So they went to the then Councilman Jack Weiss and asked him for help … but without the neighborhood support required by law, they had to abandon the HPOZ idea.
That was 7 years ago. Today is a whole new ballgame.
Today, the mansionization ordinance sets the baseline home size limit and also allows individual neighborhoods to modify their zoning laws by creating RFA (Residential Floor Area) Districts. Residents can apply to the City for an RFA if and only if they have signatures from the overwhelming majority of stakeholders.
Here is where the Problem raises its ugly head. The new law empowers a Councilman to bypass the requirement for neighborhood support.
The same folks that could not get enough signatures to apply for an HPOZ and can't get enough signatures to apply for an RFA … allied themselves with the Beverly Wilshire Homes Association and lobbied our Councilman, Paul Koretz, to bypass the requirement for neighborhood support and submit a motion to the City for an RFA Overlay … and he did!
The Mansionization Ordinance empowers your councilman to ignore you and the majority of your neighbors … submit a motion the city for an RFA … and there is nothing you can do about it.
How do I know? My Councilman told me so!
When I pointed out to Paul Koretz, Councilman 5th District, that there was insufficient support for his RFA motion, he looked me in the eye and said, and I quote, “I don't need any support to go forward with my motion”. Wow! This from my own Councilman. And sadly … Koretz is right. He does not need us and consequently the minority of neighbors in favor of his RFA do not need us either.
At this point, I could tell you about all the lies, misinformation, and misdirection that was part and parcel of our political fight over the onerous building restrictions that were proposed, but skipping to the bottom line … my neighborhood is two hearings away from a zoning overlay that will lower my property value by about $300,000 dollars and limit my ability to build to about 2400sf or less. And there is nothing I can do about it.
Are you scared yet?
Read Dick Platkin's article and you will see that he wants to “share” his vision of acceptable housing with all of Los Angeles by putting his unwise, unwanted, and onerous building limitations directly into the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance … taking residents completely out of the loop.
God forbid anyone builds a home contrary to what this self appointed arbiter of good taste deems appropriate.
If you are still skeptical of the danger, take a look at what Platkin and his cohorts managed to get placed in our RFA Overlay. It lowers home size limits to 42% of lot size less areas of attached garage, covered porches, balconies, breezeways and more. When I say we will be limited to 2400sf or less, I believe “less” is the operative word.
When Dick Platkin says we need to change the Mansionization Ordinance, I agree with him … but not in the way he wants. We need to remove the loophole that allows a Councilman to bypass the requirement for overwhelming neighborhood support. Take this political “tool” and temptation away and it will force our Council Members to honor the will of the people. And if I had my way, I would annul any RFA Overlay that was not submitted by the people with the proper support.
OK … I'm dreaming if I think the City Council will ever vote to take away a political tool or undo an injustice, but if you allow the Dick Platkins of this City to codify their agenda directly into the Mansionization Ordinance without the support of the majority of citizens and without putting up a fight … you will get what you deserve:
● Homes that are too small for modern families.
● Lower Property Values.
● Fewer improvements.
● Lower Tax Revenues for the City and County.
● No more attached garage homes being built.
● More cars parked on the street (nobody parks in backyard detached garages)
● Affluent families looking elsewhere for more reasonable places to live.
If you are not scared now, let me take one more poke at you.
At the last Planning Commission hearing we attended, it was mentioned that they are working to streamline the RFA (zoning overlay) process so that it will be easier to implement RFAs in the future. Translate that to mean … EASIER TO BYPASS YOU IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD next time … and that's without putting the limitations directly into the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance.
I know it is hard to connect emotionally to problems in another neighborhood. We only get our dander up when our ox is getting gored. But keep in mind … my neighborhood is just like hundreds of neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles … and most likely just like yours. If you are not scared now … your should be.
(Charles Tarlow … Voice in the Cheap Seats … is a Los Angeles homeowner, has served on a neighborhood council board and can be reached at: [email protected])
Vol 11 Issue 74
Pub: Sept 13, 2013