LA mayor signs law to limit McMansions in hillsides

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Shirley Jahad/KPCC

Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signs the so-called Hillside Mansionization Ordinance on April 6, 2011, at City Hall.

Los Angeles has a new law to limit the size of so-called McMansions in hillside communities. The new rules aim to preserve green space, vistas and sunlight by restricting the size of homes going up in LA hillside neighborhoods.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the ordinance at City Hall Wednesday afternoon with residents from the Sherman Oaks and Nichols Canyon communities looking on.

“There’s nothing more upsetting to those of us who have lived on hillsides than to see completely destroyed by a big box,” Villaraigosa says. “A box that doesn’t reflect the character of the neighborhood. A box that doesn’t reflect the dimensions of the lot.”

The Baseline Hillside Ordinance establishes new regulations for single-family home construction on hillside lots. Backers say it’s designed to prevent large, looming, single-family developments that can undermine the character of existing neighborhoods.

It uses a formula that takes into account parcel size, steepness of slopes and other factors.

“There have been a lot of homes built property-line-to-property-line. It’s called mansionization,” says Ron Ziff of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council, who supports the new limits.

“We’re talking about preserving the hillsides and open spaces for our grandchildren,” Ziff adds. “I like to think of what Frank Lloyd Wright said. He said, ‘a house shouldn’t be on the land, it should be of the land.’”

Officials passed a similar ordinance in 2008 for the city's flatlands.

The hillside ordinance took more work because the steepness of some terrain made it harder to calculate allowable home sizes.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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