New restrictions on 'McMansions' passed by LA City Council

An example of the difference between McMansions and smaller homes on a neighborhood street in Los Angeles, Ca.
An example of the difference between McMansions and smaller homes on a neighborhood street in Los Angeles, Ca.
Courtesy of nomoremcmansionsinlosangeles.org

Los Angeles is making moves to prevent the construction of larger, boxy homes on small lots, a common practice of real estate developers known as "McMansions."

After March, developers will have to follow a new set of amendments to the city’s Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, a law that determines how big a new single-family home can be in relation to its lot size.

The City Council unanimously approved those amendments on Wednesday.

The news comes as a relief to neighbors with smaller, older homes, Councilmember Paul Koretz, who represents parts of the Westside, told KPCC. Many residents in his district want to limit the construction of large, towering McMansions that can block sunlight, reduce street parking options and look out of place in older neighborhoods. The amendments also include restrictions on sharp, boxy angles on roofs. 

“People have been the most upset about giant stucko boxes, lot line to lot line,” Koretz said. “It blocks their air, it blocks their sunlight and it ruins the character of the neighborhood.”

The movement to restrict the development of McMansions started several years ago in Beverly Grove, where more than 60 new homes fitting that characterization went in, angering neighbors who had smaller homes, Koretz said.

The City Council decision was inspired by the community, he said. When drafting and approving the amendments, the council took into account emails from residents concerned about McMansions, he said. 

“Please support us and our neighbors who all feel that our quality of life in the hills really depends upon doing something about the overpowering massive developments by flippers and developers who only care about maximizing square footage for profit,” wrote Emily Boyle and Jon Biddle of Los Angeles in an email to City Council. 

Other residents asked for restrictions on front-facing garages, which can take up several hundred extra square feet, Koretz said.

“Excluding attached garages from floor space is like weighing yourself with one foot off the scale,” Koretz said one resident told him. 

But garage square footage wasn't included in the new amendments, he said, which would likely continue to be a debate topic between neighbors.

The amendments passed by the council will head to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s desk for a final signature this week, and will go into effect in late March.