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LA City Council Votes to Limit Size of 'McMansions'

The City Council voted 12-0 to curb the size of homes that can be built on small lots, as the 'McMansion' trend divides LA neighborhoods.

The City Council moved Wednesday to further limit the size of so-called "McMansions."

In a 12-0 vote, the council asked the city attorney to draft up an amendment to the city's Baseline Mansionization Ordinance. The new rules would impact single-family homes on lots that are less than 7,500 square feet, as homes on such properties are currently allowed to have floor areas that are 50 percent of the lot size, but under the amendment would be reduced to 45 percent.

"These larger properties provide no additional housing to our city but do price out our long-term residents," Councilman David Ryu said. "We have lost hundreds of homes, displaced middle class families and changed the historic character of our neighborhoods. Additionally, out-of-scale development has pitted neighbor against neighbor, creating toxic community disputes."

The amendment creates incentives for building detached garages or placing garages in the rear of a home by exempting them for the first 400 square feet from the size of the home, while garages that are attached at the side would only have a 200-square-foot exemption.

The amendment would also put new limits on homes built on hillsides.

Homes that are bigger than typically built in a neighborhood or dominate the footprint of the property they are located on -- often referred to as McMansions -- were limited in the original Baseline Mansionization Ordinance that passed in 2008, but the ordinance "has fallen far short of its mandate to create regulations that allow for sustainable neighborhoods and that protect the interest of all homeowners," Councilman Paul Koretz wrote in the motion creating the amendment.

Several dozen residents in the audience stood up when asked by Koretz how many present were in favor of the amendment.

"If you took a vote of the 600,000 single-family homes in Los Angeles, I would bet my life on the fact 80 percent or more would be for this," Studio City Neighborhood Council member Barry Johnson told the council. "I'm glad that as a body you are finally giving the weight to these 600,000 single-family households versus a couple of hundred spec builders. And in my neighborhood the spec builders make just as much money now in building a slightly smaller house as they did before. So it's what you can sell it for, it's not the size."

Once the amendment is drawn up by the city attorney's office it will go to the Planning and Land Use Committee for approval before coming back to the City Council.

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