Culver City Observer -

NOT HERE-McMansions

Culver City Residents Plan to Protest Mansionization


Ron Peterson

Dubbed McMansions theses large homes overpower the neighboring homes with their sheer size. This one under construction is in Carlson Park at the corner of Motor and Le Bourget Avenues.

By Lynne Bronstein

Observer Reporter

Residents of Culver City are becoming part of a growing movement against what is called "Mansionization" of neighborhoods-the building of residences that are too large for the lots they stand on and too big in contrast to other structures in the area.

Other cities in Southern California have already passed or are in the process of restricting, the size of buildings in residential neighborhoods.

Los Angeles adopted a temporary restriction on March 26 that would halt the issuance of demolition and building permits to property owners in 20 neighborhoods, including five areas being considered for historical status.

"Unfortunately for us, this means that developers are turning their focus on Culver City as they are pushed out of LA neighborhoods," say Iain Gulin, a resident of Carlson Park.

" They are taking advantage of our somewhat outdated zoning, including a lack of any floor-area-ratio requirements, and allowances for oversized homes with little recourse for the collateral damage on neighboring homes and diminishing of character of the community at large."

A floor-area ratio requirement would be a major step for Culver City in its ability to control the size of buildings in R-1 zones.

"Our zoning codes are 25 years old," says Gulin. "They didn't anticipate the changes that are happening."

He points to the Beverly Grove RFA as an example of what Culver City might do.

Beverly Grove, an area of Los Angeles, is one of three areas that, under the citywide Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO), passed in 2008, was designated an RFA (Residential Floor Area) district, to prevent mansionization.

The Beverly Grove RFA ordinance is based on a formula -- the FAR or Floor Area Ratio, which reflects house size relative to lot size. The base FAR is the size of the house that can be built "by right." It conforms only to the general provisions of the zoning code. The bonus FAR is the additional square footage earned by satisfying certain conditions set out in the RFA ordinance.

Gulin, whose family has lived in Culver City for over 50 years as both residents and business owners, appeared at the May 11 City Council meetings where he spoke on the issue of mansionization and called for the council to agendize the issue as soon as possible.

City Manager John Nachbar told Gulin that he was "in the midst of discussion" with the city planning department to determine a date for the issue to be put on the council agenda.

The item, when it does appear on the agenda, will not, according to Nachbar, include a vote on a moratorium on building. "We will be looking to council for direction," he said. "If directed we will come back at a subsequent meeting with a moratorium."

"As we are relatively behind much of Los Angeles, I do not think I am alone in saying that there is much work to be done in an effort to balance property rights and protect what makes Culver City great," says Gulin.

"Many residents, I among them, would like to see an immediate stop gap through a moratorium on home construction, and seriously reconsider the immediate and permanent effect current residential zoning will have on this City. "


Reader Comments
1 — 5 of 6

CCarchitect1 writes:

There are more important values than property values, and a dislike of overbearing development is not house jealousy. The word diversity is inapt in this context; we are not talking about architectural styles but rather bulk. Culver City has been an island of clunky charm in the midst of rabid overbuilding. Talk with residents of Santa Monica to see how they feel about what has happened to their city. Are some CC houses uncomfortably small? Yes. Are some unpleasantly large? Definitely.

jprovince writes:

We can all differ to some degree on what a McMansion is. What isn't in question is how communities are impacted negatively when property owners and developers disregard their fellow neighbors need for privacy, sunshine and air in their homes. The cavalier disregard of these fundamental needs effectively reminds us that we need sensible standards, including floor area ratios, to protect the character of our neighborhoods.

JFocus writes:

Most of the original Culver City houses are 800 square feet and two or three tiny bedrooms. You need to use your garage as closet because you have no room for anything. Those houses going up at the old fire station are just average two story houses, they are not mansions. People should be able to invest in their homes and not be burdened by house jealousy. It actually improves the neighborhoods and raises other home owners house values.

Pb101 writes:

Just because something is different from you (or your house) doesn't mean it's worse. This is America ppl. Embrace diversity!

NJMoreno writes:

Perhaps the gentleman who likes large mansions should see what is being built opposite our homes on Segrell Way & Berryman, the site of the old fire station. We have three enormous mansions being built opposite our one story houses and they are horrible. They dwarf the neighborhood and from what we saw of the plans, they looked like small townhouses, not these enormous monstrosities.They do not fit into the area at all. I would gladly ship them to his neighborhood, opposite his house!


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