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New ordinance prevents huge-mansions on LA hillsides

April 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
One person's dream house can be a neighbor's eye sore.

There's been a revolt in hillside neighborhoods across Los Angeles. The size of homes has been going from cozy to colossal.

"It is visually improper," said Anastasia Mann who is a part of the Nichols Canyon Neighborhood Council. "It is visually offensive."

For years the city has given home builders carte blanche, which has set off an uprising in Mann's upper neighborhood.

"We had scenarios where people could lop off a hill and build," said L.A. City Planner Erick Lopez. "And there were no building studies or environmental studies required because it was something the code permitted."

Now after 5 years of trying to craft a solution, Mayor Villaraigosa and city leaders signed the Baseline Hillside Ordinance.

"I want to see a Holiday Inn at LAX not on Mulholland," said Councilmember Tom La Bonge.

Mulholland Drive is exactly where Frank Friedman is building. On the steep slope will be a 4,000 square-foot home before the new regulation takes effect.

"People won't build," said Friedman about the new ordinance. "Because it is not worth it. It is not affordable. You can't get your money back even if you lived in it for 10 years."

The city planner said large homes will be allowed, but not big block profiles. There will also be incentives to encourage terraced structures, or notching into the hill.

Canyon communities say it is about preserving a more natural look.

"This is really important," said Mann. "It is not just for us today, it is for the whole future for our community."

The bottom line is that the ordinance will eliminate the hodgepodge and encourage creativity in construction. The ordinance is set to take effect in May.