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City Council Adopts Mansionization Amendments

First reading of changes to historic preservation ordinance conducted

Published on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 | 8:32 am

The City Council completed the first reading of zoning code amendments to the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance on Monday and adopted amendments to the zoning code amendment preventing mansionization.

“These zoning code changes will have impacts in preventing some of the egregious projects we have seen in Pasadena. We commend planning staff for their hard work and completing these ordinances even in a difficult year,” said Andrew Saliman, preservation director of Pasadena Heritage in correspondence.

“When time allows, we also hope there will be some kind of community workshop where staff can explain the changes to homeowners and realtors, and we offer to help in any way we can with that effort,” he wrote.

Local residents have complained about mansionization for years. In October, the City Council unanimously passed the ordinance to address the problem.

Under the proposed zoning amendment, applicants would be required to provide a square-footage analysis of all single-family houses (not including garages or accessory structures) within a 500-foot radius of the proposed project.

The amendment will be reviewed in one year.

The amendment includes the adoption of neighborhood compatibility standards related to maximum floor area, the establishment of a discretionary review process for projects of a certain size, the modification of standards related to primary structure first and second story plate height requirements, modification of standards related to accessory structure finish materials and roof pitch, and establishment of design standards regarding: prohibition of unfinished concrete and architectural foam; review of new window placement relative to existing neighboring windows; the placing of story poles to demonstrate height as part of the discretionary review process; and updating the construction notification boards.

In January, the city approved the amendments to the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance.

According to a city staff report, the ordinance provides more protections to historic resources that have not been deemed landmarks.

The ordinance would also create an automatic category for the works of Greene & Greene that states that all buildings, structures, objects and interior fixtures designed by the firm or by Charles or Henry Greene separately are automatically exempt from designation procedures in the ordinance.

The council also approved a one-year review to see if stronger or clearer language is needed to define substantial removal or replacement of exterior cladding, the impact on economically disadvantaged homeowners and a review option for conducting a historic resources survey.

The ordinance regulates evaluation, designation, and protection of historic resources, and was last amended in 2009, 2007, and prior to that in 2005 in conjunction with the adoption of a new zoning code, according to the staff report.

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