Burbank considering temporary moratorium on 'McMansions'

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
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The city of Burbank is considering a temporary moratorium on so-called 'McMansions.' Residents fear the city will become a growing patchwork of bungalows overshadowed by mansions.

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- A debate over home design is heating up in Burbank.

Resident David Mendoza says he was glad when a decaying house on Grinnell Drive and 6th Street was torn down. But he never dreamed that the replacement house would be so large.

According to a source familiar with the project, the new house with a big box frame has 3,400 square feet of livable space compared to its 2800-square-foot neighbor. It also extends 10 feet closer to the street. To the dismay of Mendoza, it is all legal.

"I cannot believe it. We can't do anything. That is what the law," said Mendoza.

A new gap in home values is emerging. The appraisal for homes on Mendoza's street is $700,000. The value of the new house will be $1.6 million. There is concern that Burbank will become a growing patchwork of bungalows overshadowed by mansions.

Momentum is growing to change Burbank's building code.

Jim Casey with Preserve Burbank is also a Realtor familiar with the complaints surrounding several projects.

"They lose their sunlight. They lose their privacy and they actually, I'd argue, bring the value of the neighborhood directly right around it down dramatically unless they're able to find somebody of like mind who wants to buy their house and build another enormous home next to it," Casey said.

But opposition is heated.

"The people that are doing these two-story additions or new construction are bringing capital into Burbank," said Edward, who only wanted to be identified by his first name.

He says the present code gives homeowners more freedom to build out.

"If they wanted to add a living room, let's say, or a family space in the front of their house, if you take away that 10-foot setback, they will not have the ability to do that," said Edward.

The city conducted a survey and is trying to accommodate both sides, according to Drew Sugars, public information officer for the city of Burbank.

"What we're trying to do is find out is there another formula that will keep something from being quite as boxy and also deciding how far do we want things set back from the street," Sugars said.

The Burbank City Council has approved $120,000 for an architectural firm to present new design guidelines. Opponents say they want the city to impose a moratorium on big box homes until changes are adopted.

Sugars says the council is weighing the demands of the community and expects more input Tuesday night when the council considers its next course of action.