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Will LA's Budget Cuts Lead to a McMansion Boom?

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The proposed budgets axes two staffers who work on preservation in areas threatened by overbuilding

When Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed his 2016-2017 budget last week, the biggest news was that it included $138 million to be spent addressing the city's rising rate of homelessness. Now, however, the LA Daily News reports that preservationists around the city are crying foul about budget cuts that would affect the city's Neighborhood Conservation division.

Still awaiting approval by the City Council, Garcetti's budget would cut two—yes two—staffers in the seven-employee division that oversees the creation of Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, which mandate some preservation and restrict development in neighborhoods with "distinct architectural and cultural resources." This might seem like a pretty minor bureaucratic move, but the Los Angeles Conservancy argues that the staffing cut could have devastating consequences for six neighborhoods "seeking relief from teardowns and mansionization." That's because those neighborhoods—Carthay Square, El Sereno Berkshire Craftsman District, Holmby-Westwood, Miracle Mile, Oxford Square, and Sunset Square—were expected to become HPOZ-designated areas prior to the date when an ordinance restricting house teardowns will expire. Take away two division staffers, though, and that process becomes more difficult.

"Now is the time to make neighborhood conservation a long-term priority," writes the very concerned LA Conservancy. "At a net annual cost of only $171,296 – or .0019558% of the Mayor’s proposed total budget of over $8 billion – older and historic neighborhoods can have the necessary staff to help residents maintain their neighborhood’s distinct community character."

City Councilmember Paul Koretz also seems worried about the staffing cuts, telling the Daily News that "giant, boxy McMansions" could be the result. Of course, Koretz has reason to be concerned about getting on the wrong side of preservationists now that Valley Village residents outraged over the destruction of one of Marilyn Monroe's former homes have launched a recall effort against fellow Councilmember Paul Krekorian.