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Santa Monica City Council Temporarily Reins in 'Monster Mansions'

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

January 25, 2018 -- Heading into the early hours of Wednesday, the Santa Monica City Council voted to to hit the pause button on the growing “mansionization” of single-family neighborhoods.

The council voted to approve an interim ordinance cutting back the size of such proposed homes while awaiting the green light from City planners.

The temporary cuts are meant to give the council time to consider a permanent way to protect the existing character of the City’s R1 (or single-family home) neighborhoods.

“This interim ordinance is both in direct response to resident concerns about large, speculative new construction and Council’s commitment to preserving the diversity and uniqueness of our residential neighborhoods,” said Mayor Ted Winterer.

“A public process will begin soon to pave the way for a more permanent solution to R1 development standards.”

In a City analysis, staff found that new homes have been about two to three times larger than their existing neighbors.

City planners also looked at demolition data of homes over the past three years, and a sharp rise in permits sought.

They said the City had received approximately 70 applications per year in that period, with about 40 permits being issued each year.

Under the temporary ordinance, the maximum footprint, or the total coverage of a parcel, will not exceed 50 percent on a sliding scale, with a maximum of 20 percent on the second floor ("Santa Monica City Council to Decide Temporary Fate of 'Monster Mansions,'" January 22, 2018).

“Accessory Dwelling Units,” or so-called Granny Flats, are exempt.

For second-floor decks and balconies, the maximum aggregate is 400 square feet, the City said.

Maximum height remains at 28 feet.

Complete planning or building permit applications submitted prior to February 24, 2018, are not required to meet the interim standards.

However, any application filed after that date must do so.

The temporary ordinance goes to the council for a second reading on February 13.

If adopted, the ordinance takes effect 30 days later, and remains in effect for 60 days.

It can, however, be extended for up to five years.


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