Los Angeles, California
Many in L.A. have expressed concern over what they’ve termed “mansionization”: the practice of constructing the largest-possible-size home on a comparatively small lot. As lots get smaller and smaller, houses are getting bigger and bigger. Homes are occupying more space—some built right to the edges of their lot. Those against the practice have argued that mansionization poses a threat to a neighborhood’s character, privacy, and vegetation. It not only changes the look and feel of an area, it also threatens to outprice and displace those who have historically resided there. Activists also worry that it allows living quarters to encroach on nearby lots, thereby compromising neighbors’ privacy. One of the most convincing arguments against mansionization is the danger to urban tree cover and vegetation. Many L.A. homeowners are cutting down trees and reducing green spaces on their properties in order to accommodate larger homes. Tree cover in urban areas is increasingly important as a means to purify air, cool overheated streets, and filter runoff.
In March 2017 Los Angeles City Council members rewrote zoning legislation in order to regulate the size of new single-family homes. The new ordinances will reduce the size of homes permitted on hillsides and in single-family neighborhoods.
Although the 2017 legislation is an exciting step forward, many are still concerned by its permissible loopholes and exemptions.
— Cassie Dana, One Big Home Researcher
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