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Regulations governing the “mansionization” of Los Angeles

As of late, the city of Los Angeles has been working on more restrictive regulation for large residential properties, particularly on hillsides, in order to avoid the "mansionization" of LA.  Many residents are concerned with developers building towering “boxes” among single-story traditional houses. These homes tend to be considered out of character for the neighborhood, out of scale for the lot size, and many argue that they are built uncomfortably close to adjacent properties. Some residents are even prepared to fight these new regulations as being too restrictive.

In case you weren’t familiar with the term, “mansionization” is the utilization of more of the developable area of a lot for a built home which may be out of scale with other homes within the neighborhood.  It is perceived as a precedent for allowing larger buildings within a neighborhood which would change the character and scale of the community.  It is seen as impactful of views and the general open space that has been enjoyed within the traditional suburban type neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

The first major decision related to the “mansionization” regulations is coming up this March.  Inside Counsel recently sat down with Jerold B. Neuman, partner at Liner, to discuss these regulations and what they could mean for developers, home owners and neighborhoods throughout LA.

“There is currently a tension between those who are seeking greater urbanization of Los Angeles and those who are trying to protect the suburban nature of the city's neighborhoods,” explained Neuman. “This tension plays out most notably in the hillsides which are predominantly the domain of the single family home.  People in these areas want to protect views, restrict density and preserve ease of access to the remainder of the city.”

City officials are forced to try to manage policy between these tensions; sometimes supporting greater density in the urban core and conversely protecting other areas by pressing for lower density.

So, is mansionization becoming a national trend? “I don't believe it's a national trend in the sense that I don't think there are many other cities that have the mix and proximity of large lot single family development to its urban areas,” he said.  

Today, many people moving into neighborhoods are purchasing large lots in order to develop larger homes.  According to Neuman, his is a trend as many homeowners desire greater amenities within their homes such as screening rooms, entertainment rooms, gallery space and larger social areas. The regulation of housing size to limit the space of a home keeps new owners from taking advantage of this trend.  Owners and housing developers viewed these regulations negative and too restrictive as it would not allow landowners to develop all the amenities that are thought of as necessary in new housing models.

“These regulations will mean continuing increased tension between developers and neighborhoods and greater confusion amongst homeowners who are looking to remodel or maximize the use of their property,” said Neuman. “Greater regulation will lead to more political rancor and potentially the loss of value to properties throughout LA.”

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Contributing Author

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Amanda Ciccatelli

Amanda G. Ciccatelli is a Freelance Journalist for InsideCounsel, where she covers intellectual property, legal technology, patent litigation, cybersecurity, innovation, and more. She earned a B.A....

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