Holmby Hills Mansionization

Holmby Hills has been working for over a year to develop a HPOZ. In Holmby Hills they have been  working to promote a movement to maintain and preserve the quality of homes in Holmby Hills and Little Holmby. Efforts to create a HPOZ have been underway for some time . Holmby Hills mansionization is a hot topic. The City council felt it is time to review the rules on building, remodelling, additions, tear down restrictions etc. Bel air is in desperate need of restrictions on building in the neighborhood. Holmby Hills mansionization has been on the forefront for a few years so they are recently a neighborhood considered along with approx 20 neighborhoods under review.

Quoted from PaulKoretz, there has been a temporary moratorium placed onHolmby Hills and the following areas to curbmansionization:

Holmby Hills mansionization

Holmby Hills mansionization

Monday, Nov 17, 2014

Mansionization occurs when homes are torn down to make way for larger, indeed often enormous, boxy “McMansions.”  With these new mansions towering over surrounding homes, many local residents feel that the historical character of their neighborhood has been altered, perhaps even irreparably.  Some communities in particular have experienced a major loss of smaller, older houses, bought to be razed and replaced with newer structures occupying the maximum available lot space.

One of the key sources of abuse has been the so-called “bonuses,” enabling developers to build using an additional 20% more space.  These bonuses were adopted half a dozen years ago, when size limits based on lot size were being set for both new and renovated homes. Councilmember Koretz strongly believes that allowing such large bonuses has undermined the effort to protect neighborhoods from overdevelopment, and that’s why he’s calling for significant limits on such bonuses or their outright elimination, as part of the Council’s effort to pass a citywide mansionization ordinance.

Deliberations on how best to strengthen anti-mansionization regulations, including by tackling the problem of these large bonuses, won’t be completed quickly – complex issues and challenges are involved, and the process may take an estimated 18 months.  In the meantime, the city has agreed to take some swifter action to protect some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods from rampant out-of-scale development.

That’s why on November 4th, the City Council unanimously agreed to create rules that temporarily protect some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods from the flurry of demolition.  Those areas, to be protected through the establishment of an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO), include Sunset Square, Carthay Square, Holmby-Westwood, Oxford Square, El Sereno-Berkshire Craftsman District, South Hollywood, La Brea Hancock Neighborhood, North Beverly Grove, The Oaks, Valley Village, Faircrest Heights Neighborhood, Old Granada Hills Neighborhood, and Larchmont Village.  Under the ICO, various temporary remedies regarding tear-downs and replacement homes may be applied to these neighborhoods, to curtail large, out-of-scale development there, while we move toward adoption of a permanent, citywide ordinance.

These temporary measures will help neighborhoods knee-deep in mansionization, which is why neighborhood activist join with Councilmembers Koretz, Blumenfield, LaBonge and Krekorian in celebrating after the November 4th vote, but the long term solution will be through a citywide mansionization ordinance that recognizes the need for changing the current system of bonuses that encourages out-of-scale McMansions”  http://cd5.lacity.org/Get_Informed/CommunityNews/LACITYP_029419

Holmby Hills has been working to bring about a HPOZ  for over a year. Foreseeing Holmby Hills mansionization, restrictions on building have been undertaken for some time. Spear headed by Susan Ruben believes the HPOZ would help protect the character and architectural standards within the community. Bel Air which has been greatly affected by tearing down old homes and building huge new homes is now making efforts to develop a HPOZ. The difficulties in the neighborhoods arise when developers over build or build outside of city guidelines and styles that may not fit as others see fitting for the neighborhoods. The HWPOA has sued and cited builders in the neighborhood for not adhering to the original CC&R’s in the neighborhood and tried to curb inappropriate projects in the area. Holmby Hills has a mixture of many styles of homes, Tudor, Mediterranean, Mid Century, Ranch,Colonial, English Country, French Country, Spanish etc. Large homes are being torn down and remodeled as many of the homes are older in Holmby Hills.New kitchens, bathrooms, wood floors, plumbing replacements, etc are all common in the homes that are being redone. Some people feel the HPOZ will dictate what can be done. Others worry about not having the regulations as new homes tower over their homes or are very large. As a member of the community and realtor in the area Caron Schwartz has noted” there is a large increase in construction ,both remodeling and tearing down homes in the recent year that is increasing.” “People recognize what a special neighborhood Holmby Hills and Little Holmby and Bel Air are. The existing homes are being improved, or torn down creating larger homes. In Bel Air,there is concern for some large homes being built There are many homes that are older and are in need of updating. Holmby Hills and Bel Air are very unique neighborhoods. They are  neighborhoods close to so much that L.A has to offer, yet tucked away with some privacy and beautiful homes. There is tremendous opportunity to upgrade and improve the older homes in the areas.”Concern for Holmby Hills Mansionization and Bel Air Mansionization are hot topics.

“What is an HPOZ and how does it work?

A Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, or HPOZ, is an area of the city which is designated as containing structures, landscaping, natural features or sites having historic, architectural, cultural or aesthetic significance. To receive such designation, areas must be adopted as an HPOZ by the City Planning Commission and the City Council through a zone change procedure that includes notification of all affected and nearby property owners and public hearings. Once designated, areas have an HPOZ overlay added to their zoning, and are subject to special regulations under Section 12.20.3 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code. Each HPOZ area has a five member HPOZ Board to review and make recommendations on projects and promote historic preservation within the designated area. Most types of exterior changes or improvements to properties in an HPOZ area require written approval from the Planning Department.
What are the possible advantages of living in an HPOZ?
  • Control over inappropriate alterations: HPOZs offer one of the most effective tools to protect the unique historic exterior architectural character of neighborhoods. The HPOZ process ensures that proposals for exterior alterations, additions, and new construction in historic neighborhoods receive appropriate review and scrutiny. Designation as an HPOZ helps to ensure that the most distinctive, historic, and charming qualities of the neighborhood will be preserved.
  • Increase in property values: Numerous studies nationally have found that homes within historic districts such as HPOZs tend to appreciate in value at a higher rate than similar homes outside designated historic districts. Many homebuyers specifically seek out homes in unique historic neighborhoods and welcome the assurance that the qualities which attracted them to the neighborhood are more likely to endure over time.
  • Eligibility for property tax reductions: Under the Mills Act program, owners of “contributing structures” (those structures that were built during the predominant period of development in the neighborhood and that have retained most of their historic architectural features) are eligible to enter into a contract with the City that can result in substantial property tax savings.
  • Preservation expertise: The HPOZ Board, in addition to its formal role in reviewing process, can often serve as an informal source of technical expertise and guidance. Board members often offer property owners excellent advice on cost-effective ways to remodel their properties to maintain and enhance their historic character, and may even suggest local contractors and craftspersons who have worked on similar rehabilitation projects.
  • Enhanced sense of community: The HPOZ approval process can often bring a neighborhood together around a common source of pride: a neighborhood’s history and architectural character. The designation itself can help create a sense of identity among neighborhood residents and greater awareness of the neighborhood throughout the city.
What are the possible disadvantages?
Property owners should be aware that properties located within an HPOZ are subject to additional review processes. A property owner may need to make a presentation to their local HPOZ Board. Most types of exterior changes or improvements must be approved by the Department of City Planning: minor modifications may be approved very quickly, but more significant changes may be under review for up to 75 days. Projects that would degrade the historic character of the building or the neighborhood may not be allowed.
An HPOZ is also not the right tool for every neighborhood. Sometimes, neighborhoods become interested in achieving HPOZ status largely to stop out-of-scale new development. An HPOZ should not be seen as an “anti-mansionization” tool: other zoning tools may better shape the scale and character of new construction. An HPOZ is best utilized when a neighborhood has a cohesive historic character and community members have reached a consensus that they wish to preserve those historic architectural features.

What is the adoption process for a new HPOZ?
The process typically begins informally, at a grass-roots level, with a local neighborhood group organizing community meetings to explain to residents how the HPOZ process works and to gauge possible interest in creating an HPOZ. Community members often ask their City Council members for assistance, and most HPOZs are formally initiated by the City Council through a motion by the Councilmember of the district. Under the HPOZ Ordinance, the Director of the Planning, the Cultural Heritage Commission, or the City Planning Commission may also initiate an HPOZ. An HPOZ may also be initiated through a formal application by owners or renters within the district; in these cases only, the ordinance requires that signatures of at least 75% of owners or lessees be obtained.

Before an HPOZ may move into the formal adoption process, an historic resources survey of the proposed district must be prepared. The survey details the historic and architectural significance of the neighborhood and identifies structures and features as either “contributing” or “non-contributing” to the district. A contributing structure is a building that was constructed during the predominant period of development in the neighborhood and that has retained most of its historic features. A non-contributing structure is one that was either constructed after the major period of the neighborhood’s development, or has been so significantly altered that it no longer conveys its historic character.

Once the historic resources survey is completed, it is reviewed by Department of City Planning staff for completeness and accuracy. The Department of City Planning also holds public workshops and hearings in the community before taking the HPOZ through the adoption process. An HPOZ becomes effective only after the completed Historic Resources Survey is certified by the Cultural Heritage Commission. Because the HPOZ includes changes to zoning within the proposed area, it must be adopted as an ordinance by the City Planning Commission and the full City Council, following full public hearings.” quoted from: http://www.preservation.lacity.org

To learn more about real estate in Bel Air and Holmby Hills , contact https://caronschwartz.com 310.383.0831