Different ways of measuring a home’s square footage by city departments and realtors make it confusing for homeowners to know whether new homes conform to Los Angeles’ Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, according to Jonathan Brand, deputy chief of land use planning for Councilman Tom LaBonge’s office.
Speaking to the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee Thursday night, Brand said he began investigating the issue when constituents pointed out inconsistencies between the square footages listed on permits from the city department of building and safety and the real estate agents' Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
LaBonge was an advocate for the 2008 anti-mansionization ordinance that limits the house-to-lot ratios in areas zoned for single family homes. Depending on the lot size, a house can only take up 40 to 50 percent of the lot. It is designed to keep multi-story mansions from being built on lots that originally held only small, 1940s ranch houses.
Brand said his investigation showed that the Building and Safety Department won’t sign off on a permit until the plans conform to the ordinance. But even so square footage listings vary depending on which organization is issuing the permit or listing:
- The Building and Safety Department includes anything that is covered by a roof, including covered porches and basements.
- The city’s Planning Code doesn’t include portions of garages, covered areas and basements in its measurements, but does add square footage for rooms with ceilings higher than 14-feet or attics with ceilings higher than 7-feet.
- MLS uses the highest possible measurement of square footage because houses are sold on the basis of size.