City Council Approves Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) for Brookside, Sycamore Square

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On Wednesday, October 28, the Los Angeles City Council passed a motion to establish an Interim Control Ordinace (ICO) for the Brookside and Sycamore Square neighborhoods (along with the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council area), to help prevent residential teardowns, and subsequent construction of oversized replacement homes, in those areas while the city re-works its Baseline Mansionization Ordinance.

The ordinance was first proposed by 4th District Council Member David Ryu in July, and was reviewed by the Council’s PLUM Committee earlier this month.  The original draft of the ordinance, passed by the PLUM Committee and sent on to the full city council, included specific restrictions taken from an earlier ICO established for the Studio City community.  At the PLUM Committee hearing, however, residents from both Brookside and Sycamore Square spoke out in favor of slightly more restrictive regulations, which would place tighter limits on square footage calculations and encouraged detached garages at the rear of the property (instead of more suburban-style front-facing attached garages), as had been drafted for an ICO in the Beverly Grove area.  After that hearing, Mr. Ryu’s office amended the ordinance, specifying the Studio City rules for Sherman Oaks, and the Beverly Grove rules for the more historic, more urban neighborhoods of Sycamore Square and Brookside.  The revised ordinance won approval on Wednesday.

After the vote, Ryu said “I’m honored to have delivered on a commitment I made over a year ago during the campaign to protect our neighborhoods from over-development.”  He noted, however, that “ultimately, we need to to revise the baseline mansionization ordinance.The need for consistent and fair rules on mansionization laws throughout the entire City is urgent and past due.”

The revised BMO should help provide more permanent protections against teardowns and construction of “mini-mansions,” but both Sycamore Square and Brookside will also be using the time afforded by the ICO to work on plans to implement Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs) for their neighborhoods.  The HPOZ designations would provide an extra layer of protection to help preserve the historic architectural character of those communities.

Ann Eggleston, outgoing president of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, said, “This is an important step in preserving the character and scale of Sycamore Square. We see historic homes being demolished in a blink of an eye (and McMansions popping up) all around us. While we haven’t seen the same level of activity in the SSNA area, we knew it was only a matter of time, with several homes that had been long held by families recently sold to developers or flippers. The ICO will give us the breathing room to explore and hopefully embark on the HPOZ process.”

Owen Smith, president of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (and Brookside resident) agreed, saying, “I am excited about the ICO . It will allow us time to finalize plans for a HPOZ without having to concern ourselves with tear downs.”

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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