Official Political Website for Charlotte Laws - Member of the Greater Valley Glen Council

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Charlotte Laws
Member of the 
Greater Valley Glen Council

21781 Ventura Blvd., Suite 633
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
Tel.  818.346.5280
Fax.  818.985.1690

drlaws@roadrunner.com

Photo of Charlotte Laws in March 2005

GREATER VALLEY GLEN INTERIM CONTROL ORDINANCE     RE: MANSIONIZATION
(Passed by the GVGC in September 2005)


 The Valley Glen community was developed in the mid-20th century as a single-family home area with large lots and generous setbacks. Typical lots range from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. The great majority of the houses in Valley Glen are single-story, ranch-style structures which present low, graceful facades to the street. Where second stories are built, they are generally located at the rear of the house and represent a relatively small percentage of the house's square footage. Over the decades since the area was first developed, trees and other foliage matured, creating streetscapes reminiscent of country lanes.

The uniqueness of the Valley Glen community is further underscored by Los Angeles Valley College which is sited in Valley Glen and provides a college-town atmosphere to the Valley Glen community. Also, the College’s architectural style of low roof mid-1950’s ranch also set the tone for the architectural style of many, if not most homes built in the Valley Glen community.

Recently, the area's rustic elegance was altered by several houses which disregarded the essential character of the Valley Glen streetscape. These box-like structures present unarticulated, two-story facades to the street instead of the traditional single­ story facade. The upper levels of the new houses contain about half of the structures' square footage, adding to their massive, boxy look. Moreover, the new structures allow only minimum spacing between houses which, when combined with two-story sidewalls, create congested relationships between adjoining houses that are vastly out of character with the rest of Valley Glen. Worse, the large second stories with multiple windows on each side reduce or eliminate their neighbors' privacy. Note that some of the houses in question are being developed in clusters to reinforce their sales appeal.

The above findings are the result of a survey of every house and street in Valley Glen which was undertaken by the Mansionization Issue Subcommittee of the Valley Glen Neighborhood Association on the weekend of June 4 and 5, 2005.

The Valley Glen Neighborhood Association, through its Mansionization Issue Subcommittee and the Greater Valley Glen Council, through its Land Use Committee, worked together in developing both this Motion and the attached Interim Control Ordinance formula and both organizations are jointly submitting this proposed Motion for an Interim Control Ordinance and the attached proposed Interim Control Ordinance formula to the Honorable Wendy Greuel, 2nd District Councilmember, Los Angeles City Council for review by appropriate City staff and adoption by the Los Angeles City Council.

In order to preserve the essential look and feel of Valley Glen, the community desires to create standards that will define its special qualities and prohibit development that is inconsistent with those qualities.  

I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Attorney and the Department of City Planning be requested to take appropriate steps to create an Interim Control Ordinance ("ICO") prohibiting the issuance of certain building permits for structures in the Valley Glen area. For the purpose of the ICO, the community of Valley Glen is defined as the area that is defined by the Exhibit A attached. The ICO shall apply to applications for building permits and grading permits for properties located within Valley Glen boundaries as described in Exhibit A attached. The proposed standards have been prepared by the Valley Glen Community and the offices of Councilmember Greuel, and are attached hereto as Exhibit B. These standards shall be presented to the Planning Commission for consideration at a public hearing. These standards address, without limitation, the following areas of concern:

1.  The height and massing of proposed structures, particularly the extent and location of second stories;

2.  The impact of proposed structures on the privacy of adjoining property occupants;

3.  Front yard setbacks as compared to prevailing setbacks in the area;

4. The structure's impact on mature vegetation on the property, particularly within the public right of way; and

5.  The extent to which proposed right of way improvements conform to prevailing        streetscapes.

I FURTHER MOVE that the Department of City Planning be directed to undertake appropriate studies to protect the Valley Glen community by permanently prohibiting the issuance of building permits for structures on the lots identified herein unless the plans for such structures conform to the standards to be developed in accordance with this motion.

Presented by:
_______________________
Wendy Greuel , Councilmember, 2nd District, Los Angeles City Council

Seconded by:

_________________________
 Councilmember, ___ District ___, Los Angeles City Council

 EXHIBIT “A”

APPLICABLE BOUNDARIES

For purposes of the proposed Interim Control Ordinance, the boundaries applicable herein shall be the boundaries of the Greater Valley Glen Council which are described as follows:

“On the west, Hazeltine Avenue from Burbank Boulevard to Vanowen Street.  At Vanowen Street, the boundary runs east to Woodman Avenue, then North to Sherman Way.  At Sherman Way, the boundary runs east to the Tujunga Wash, then south along the Tujunga Wash to Vanowen Street. At Vanowen Street, the boundary runs east to Hollywood Freeway. The boundary then runs south along the Hollywood Freeway (170) to Burbank Blvd. At Burbank Boulevard, the boundary runs west to Hazeltine Avenue.” 

EXHIBIT “B”

INTERIM CONTROL ORDINANCE

APPLICABLE FORMULA

The following applies to multi-story homes only. Zoning for one story homes shall remain per current code.

  1. Allowable number of stories:

    1. Two

    2. Lofts not allowed above second floor.

  1. Allowable height: Per current code

  1. Additions to existing structures:

    1. When 49% or less of the existing structure is demolished, second story additions above the remaining structure are exempt from this amendment. All other new construction shall comply. 

    1. When 50% or more of the existing structure is demolished, all new construction shall comply with this amendment.

    1. Existing structures 750 SF or less (excluding garage): Second story additions above the existing structure are exempt from this amendment. All other new construction shall comply. 

  1. Floor area ratio (F.A.R.) shall be 60% of site area

    1. includes

                                                              i.      garage

                                                            ii.      any areas under a roof or floor above

                                                          iii.      fireplaces

                                                           iv.      accessory buildings

    1. excludes

                                                              i.      shafts

                                                            ii.      balconies open to the sky

                                                          iii.      incidental areas under eaves and similar projections

  1. Maximum second floor area - 40% of F.A.R.  (excludes stairs and shafts)

  1. Front-yard set setback

    1. First floor

                                                              i.      minimum per current code

                                                            ii.      minimum average setback – current code plus 4’ 

    1. Second floor

                                                              i.      minimum – current code plus 4’

                                                            ii.      minimum average – current code plus 8 ’  

    1. Window area is unlimited

  1. Side-yard setback

    1. First floor

                                                              i.      not less than 6’

                                                            ii.      minimum average 8’  

    1. Second floor

                                                              i.      not less than 6’           

                                                            ii.      minimum average setback 10’  

    1. Landscape screens

                                                              i.      Side-yards to be configured to accept mature tree growth to screen views of adjacent rear yards.

                                                            ii.      The applicant shall submit a line-of -sight study demonstrating that the proposed plantings will effectively screen views from second story windows, balconies and decks to adjacent rear yards. The study shall include but is not limited to the following:

1.      Plot plan drawn to scale indicating proposed structure footprint and planting. It shall also include partial footprints of the structures on the adjacent lots. Indicate property lines.

2.      Floor plans indicating exterior windows, doors, decks, balconies and other features that my have line of site access to adjacent rear-yards.

3.      Building elevations drawn to scale indicating all items required in line item 2 above. Indicate floor to floor height and overall height.

4.      Photos of side and rear-yard conditions for the proposed structure and adjacent lots.

  iii.      Install minimum 24” box trees. Tree species shall have maximum mature canopy diameter that shall not exceed 15’-18’. Tree species shall have root systems that minimize damage to structures, yard walls or fence footings.  

    1. Allowable projections into side yard shall be per current code.

    1. Balconies, terraces sleeping porches and rooftop decks may not occur in second floor side-yard wall elevations. This includes setback transition walls.

    1. Area of second floor side-yard windows shall not exceed 25% of the interior area of the wall in which the windows occur.

                                                              i.      the interior area of a wall is defined as the surface area of a wall occurring in one room measured from extent to extent in width and height. This area includes windows, doors and other penetrations occurring in that wall.

                                                            ii.      the wall area does not include floor thickness, ceiling thickness, transition surfaces for pilasters, fireplaces, closets, soffits, setback transitions, or other variations in the wall surface.

                                                          iii.      wall area may include the vertical surface of soffits occurring at that wall.

                                                           iv.      wall area occurring above 10’ above finished floor is excluded and may not be used to increase window area.

                                                             v.      windows with sills higher than 6’ above finished floors are unlimited.

                                                           vi.      windows occurring in side-yard setback transitions shall be considered side-yard windows and shall be included in this requirement.

  1. Rear-yard setback

    1. Minimum 15’ for first story

    1. Minimum 25’ for second story

    2. Rear-yard balconies and roof-top decks

            i.      may not occur within the 25’ rear yard

                                                            ii.      may not occur within 10’ of the side yard property lines.

    1. Window area is unlimited


* Proposal drafted by Architect Gary Popenoe and  the Valley Glen Neighborhood Association Mansionization Issue Subcommittee with Assistance from the Greater Valley Glen Council Land Use Committee.