Houses allowed more square footage, front garages under Koretz

| June 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

300 S. CITRUS AVENUE has a two-story house under construction in La Brea Hancock, but the building does not have to comply with the area’s adopted zoning that requires rear garages.

Two houses under construction at 300 and 339 S. Citrus Ave. are not what La Brea Hancock residents had in mind when envisioning the outcome of a new anti-McMansion law passed in March 2017.

One house whose construction got underway last month, at 300 S. Citrus, is really big — between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet — not including the square footage of the front garage on Citrus Ave.

So what happened?

A few things, according to area resident watchdogs.

The developer/owner’s plans for that two-story, corner house were approved just before more restrictive new “variation zone” ordinances and an amended Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO) went into effect in March 2017.

“Board members looked into this in late March and learned the permit was approved eight days prior to our new zone change,” according to Tammy Rosato, president of the La Brea Hancock Homeowners Association.

“Looks like it will be a big house with an attached front garage which is what we really don’t like to see,” said another resident, who asked to be anonymous.

Some residents think the 300 S. Citrus Ave. owner “pulled a fast one,” but, “that’s not the case,” the anonymous source added.

Alarmed, area residents began to investigate when demolition began of a 1,769-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home on the site, built in 1924.

What they learned was that the owner applied for a permit March 9, 2017, days before the BMO was approved citywide, as well as the stricter La Brea Hancock Variation Zone with Rear Garage (R1R3-RG).

It was a similar situation for the further-along house at 339 S. Citrus. The owner there applied for a permit March 3, 2017.

Koretz district

Pending the passage of the more restrictive ordinances, local areas were protected by Interim Control Ordinances (ICO). However, both sides of the 300 block of South Citrus Avenue were in the ICO known as “Lower Council District 5,” which had a less restrictive ICO than the rest of La Brea Hancock (in CD4).

The two sides of Citrus, along with the west side of Highland Avenue, all between Third and Fourth streets, were removed from CD4 and added to CD5 during the 2012 redistricting at the request of Councilman Paul Koretz. And, therefore, the Councilman had these two sides of Citrus, in this one block, included in his less-strict ICO, the Lower CD5 ICO.

“We didn’t even know about it,” said the anonymous source.

Thus, “the permit was approved within the Lower CD5 ICO, not under the R1R3-RG zone we presently have, nor the La Brea Hancock ICO before that.”

Front garages

“The Lower CD5 ICO was unfortunately more permissive than La Brea Hancock’s was, allowing for a front-attached garage that does not count against square footage.”

The new house at 300 S. Citrus, which is described in its building permit as a “major remodel (one wall to remain),” has its two-car garage right at the front yard.

“I would hardly call this a remodel or addition — it is a teardown,” said another resident who also asked to remain anonymous.

The other house, across the street and down the block, at 339 S. Citrus, got its construction underway about a year ago pursuant to a permit issued on June 5, 2017. That permit is for an “addition and major structural remodel” — that probably will end up with more than 3500 square feet, including its new garage at the front yard facing Citrus Ave.

As a consolation, the first anonymous homeowner said of the home being built at 339 S. Citrus, “This will be a big house but not as big as the true McMansions already in our tract.”

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