Tell the Culver City Council ‘Do Not Legalize Mansionization’

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Tell the Culver City Council ‘Do Not Legalize Mansionization’

This petition had 276 supporters

I am writing on behalf of my neighbors, Erol and Erika Cilinger, who are standing in front of their Culver City home. The huge home being built next door to them is a 4,000-square foot house on what is less than a 6,000-square foot lot.

Imagine, next door to you, a home being built like this one. Erol and Erika’s backyard privacy is now gone. There is no space to plant a ‘wall’ of foliage, and even if they could it would have to be 30 feet tall and, as the monolithic new structure already does, it would rob them of their access to hours of sunlight every day. Their quality of life in the lovely home they have lived in for three decades has been effected profoundly. The market value of their home has been significantly diminished because no prospective buyer wants to live like that. Erol and Erika have no recourse. They are helpless.

As residents of Culver City we are ALL vulnerable. There has been an 800% increase in permits issued or applied for for homes larger than 3,000 square feet in Culver City since 2011. A vastly oversized home may be scheduled to be built right next to you. More are coming.

Mansionization is happening right now in Culver City because the outdated zoning codes allow it. Of urgent concern is that our Planning Commission's proposed zoning code changes will have no noticeable effect on similar structures built in the future.

As middle class neighborhoods across the country evolve and property values increase, the debate over mansionization becomes inevitable. The outcome of this debate will have far reaching implications touching the lives of every resident.

In this country we take “Property Rights” very seriously as a foundational value, but no more so than civility and fairness. Nobody has an inalienable ‘right’ to build an oversized structure next to your home – one that negatively impacts your quality of life by destroying your privacy, compromising your sunlight, and reducing the market value of your property.

In June of 2015, the City Council responded to public outcry by tasking the Planning Commission, in cooperation with the City Planning Staff, to come back with recommendations which would address the City’s outdated zoning codes. A vote on amendments to the zoning codes is expected soon – in less than 2 months.

The PROBLEM is that the zoning codes in Culver City are SO outdated, and the changes the Planning Commission is preparing to recommend are SO modest and ineffective that, if they are enacted, mansionization will actually become law in Culver City.

Under current zoning laws, 4,000-square foot houses can be legally constructed on 6,000-square foot lots – just like the one next to Erol and Erika. Under the proposed changes, a 3,600-square foot home could still be built – virtually the same house – at this location.

This nightmare is being allowed to continue to happen because decisions are being made by our elected city officials without an extensive, independent study of the complex issues caused by mansionization. This same issue has been addressed by other communities in the Los Angeles area by taking a year to evaluate zoning codes using data and recommendations provided by unbiased, comprehensive studies and subsequent resident input.  For reasons unknown, Community Development Director, Sol Blumenfeld set the Planning Commission to a fast-track schedule of only three study sessions over three months using very limited information provided only by the city’s own staff. An independent study offering comprehensive solutions, is essential. It is not possible to determine what the majority of Culver City citizens actually want to be done because no such study exists. Furthermore, the elected officials of Culver City may be putting our city at risk of legal action by the growing number of residents who have been impacted by this – as is now occurring in several Southern California communities that may have insufficiently addressed this issue.

The prosperous redevelopment of Culver City should be celebrated with mindful zoning codes that encourage the construction of contemporary, properly scaled new homes that take into account the values that make our community so desirable and livable. Homeowners would still very much be encouraged to renovate, expand or rebuild their homes if they see fit to do so. However, it is what we already have that makes Culver City so valuable, not excessive square footage.

The SOLUTION is to urge our City Council to: 

1.     Reject the cosmetic changes recommended by the Planning Commission.

2.     Engage a team of outside experts to conduct a thorough unbiased policy review.

This is a serious problem that can only be corrected if we are heard in large numbers and right away.

Please sign our petition to protect all Culver City residents so that what happened to Erol and Erika does not happen to you or to anyone else.

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