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LA Is Trying to Tighten Its Rules Against 'Mansionization'

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When homeowners build to the very maximum allowed on a lot

Los Angeles certainly has its fair share of housing woes, with rampant homelessness problem and rents rising at an alarming rate. But it’s not all section 8s and vacancy rates. There's also the too-big mansions—the problem of "mansionization."

That's a term that describes the tear-down of smaller houses to build ones several times larger and expansion of a house's size to the very maximum allowed on a lot. It's a heated topic. Packs of anti-mansion vigilantes have posted signs, sent hate mail, and littered new homes with dog poop in protest of supersized homes.

Now, it looks like the anti-mansionization fight is headed, once again, to City Hall. According to the Los Angeles Times, the city's planning commission voted Thursday in favor of amending the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, a 2008 rule that caps the size of a home at a set square footage based on the size of the lot.

Mansionization opponents say the amendments are needed because homeowners have found loopholes in the ordinance.

"It gets so you just want to crawl in a hole and die rather than take a walk in your own neighborhood," Studio City resident Barry Johnson told the commissioners, according to the Times.

"Ecologically-friendly" building methods, for example, entitle homeowners to a 20 percent boost in allowable square footage, and attached garages and covered porches do not count towards the total square footage allowed on a lot.

The proposed changes OK'd by the planning commission this week would eliminate the ecological building method bonus. The exemption for covered porches and patios would be axed, too. Attached garages would still be exempt from the total square footage, but the maximum size of garages would be lowered from 400 square feet to 200 square feet. After that, it would start counting against the home. Also, the allowable square footage for homes in residential areas would be reduced from 50 percent of the total lot size to 40 percent.

The City Council will now take up the issue, and vote whether to make the changes law.