Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘building & Planning’ Category

As an update to a recent post titled Mansionization Concerns in Many Areas of Long Beach, I wrote about a specific property at 181 La Verne Ave. in Belmont Shore. The owner was looking to the city’s Building and Planning Commission for a height variance to forgive the already built, third-story storage room adjacent to the roof-top deck.

At the time of my last post, the city Planning staff was of the opinion that the owner be given the varience due to the fact that the building had already been done and that it was at the back of the home, far away from the street.

Thankfully, a group of neighborhood residents noticed the code violation (city inspectors had not) and then strongly opposed the variance as part of their  concerns for “mansionization”  and over-building in Belmont Shore.

Low and behold, the Planning Commission, with a unanimous vote, did not approve the owner’s petition for a third-story variance.   The builder must now make corrections to the home to bring it back into code. Hopefully this will bring a very positive light to the need for keeping the historical value to a wonderful beach community of Long Beach and let other builders know that the city is, perhaps, not going to allow a “build it now and forgive later” policy for those who try to exceed code limits.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

McMansion being built

It seems as though builders and/or property owners in and around Belmont Heights, Belmont Shore and the Peninsula, along with other areas of Long Beach, are ignoring building codes causing residents to start fighting to preserve the character of their neighborhoods. The term “mansionization” refers to the alarming trend for builders and homeowners to purchase smaller homes, tear them down and erect a home that is much larger and not in character with the other homes in the area. 

Third District Councilman, Gary DeLong  along with Seventh District Councilwoman, Tonia Reyes Uranga asked the City Council for a new “Neighborhood Character Stabilization” plan to slow this trend at this week’s Council Meeting. In turn, the counsil asked it’s Housing and Neighborhoods committee to come back to them in 45 days with something similar.

In the meantime, some residents are fighting specific projects that exceed the building codes or are asking for a variance. Belmont Heights Neighborhood Association reported to the council that there are a dozen or more homes right now in their neighborhood in danger of being torn down and replaced with much larger structures.

Today, the Planning Commission will rule on a home being built at 181 La Verne Ave. where construction was halted after residents brought to the city’s attention that the home’s height exceeded building codes. The owner says he didn’t know the storage unit adjacent to the roof-top deck exceeded the height of the building code. His apology is not disuading the residents that reported the violation to the city. They oppose allowing the builder to finish the home. The building department, on the other hand, is suggesting that a variance should be granted due to the fact that the violation is well off the street. What does that have to do with anything? Isn’t it possible that the height of this home could block another homeowner’s view (if not now, in the future) from their roof-top deck? Aren’t variances for hardship cases? And, what kind of precidence is that setting for future building projects?

I agree with the neighborhood activist that seek to eliminate or greatly reduce the number of variances granted. It should be consistant across the board. There are too many cases where the building goes up and the variance comes after the fact. It’s becoming too easy for builders to complete a project and ask for forgiveness afterward.

There is also a trend to build to the extreme edges of lot lines and to go as high up with the building as the code allows. While this is not a violation, in many cases these “McMansions” (homes) do nothing to enhance the character of the neighborhood and usually take away from it. In the Shore, one particular builder has built the same “McMansion” numerous times within a three block radius, painted all of them the same color and put the same front door on them. Several of my prospective buyers, as of late, have noticed these look-a-like homes and have pointed them out to me. One of the reasons people buy in the Shore or the Heights is because the homes are so architecturally different from each other. The Neighborhood Character Stabilization plan will consider the “maxing out” of properties and hopefully will address the copy-cat building as well.

Some activists are calling for story poles to be erected. These are wooden poles put up weeks before any approvals are given by the building department, allowing neighbors to see the height and massing of the proposed building to be erected. Although commonly used in communities such as Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and the like, Long Beach does not require their use. I think it’s an excellent idea, giving neighbors an opportunity to view their site lines and research the building’s specifications before it is built and construction has to be haulted.

Read Full Post »