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Santa Monica Dirt Going Down?

Posted by John Hathorn on January 26, 2018
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1/24/2018 – Last night, or should I say at 2:30 this morning, the Santa Monica City Council voted for the implementation of a city-wide Interim Zoning Ordinance (IZO) for all R1(Single Family Residential) properties. The IZO will reduce home sizes by about 20%.

Many homeowners (not developers, or real estate agents) plead with the City to give more time for discussion and adjustments to the ordinance but in the end, all but a few vocal NOMA board members left the meeting shocked and disappointed. The Council heard from several homeowners and end-users that explained they would not have purchased their lots at the prices they had there was any inkling this change was being discussed.

Councilwoman Pam O’Conner was the only dissenting vote.

The IZO, “emergency in nature,” will now impose a building height limit of 28 feet and cut the footprint allowed by 20 percent for new homes in all R1 neighborhoods, not just the North of Montana area.

It will remain in effect for 45 days, however, these interim ordinances have a funny way of becoming permanent, in my experience.

The Councilman Kevin McKeown says that the IZO would give the City “a chance to reduce the carnage” while it addresses the growing trend of building larger homes.

When asked by McKeown what they were planning or hoping to build, several homeowners described modest sized homes, none more than 4,600 sqft. The council was undaunted. Many of the homeowner’s plans call for sizes and features (like wrap-around porches and decks) that would put them just over the limit of the new building standards. Several residents explained that the height restrictions would force all new construction to only be of modern architectural style with flat roofs.

One very knowledgeable 16th St homeowner from the 90402 explained that new home permit applications were actually fewer in number than years gone by, that house sizes are far smaller than ever before and that, as early as last July, the City had already lowered density and that the current climate does not call for an urgent or emergency ordinance.

He went on to say that he is not ready to finalize his plans and the City’s actions will mean he will have wasted years of planning and tens of thousands of dollars.

The vocal and well-organized proponents of the IZO complain that the new homes — often the product of speculators — build to property line (impossible) and loom over streets where they are out of character.

Santa Monica took similar action against “monster mansions” in 1999, when neighbors complained of “Persian Palace” (mausoleum-like) homes being built mostly North of Montana Avenue.

The emergency ordinance that resulted called for larger yards and smaller decks and patios. It encouraged porches, instead of garages, facing the streets and architectural variety which would let more sunlight onto neighboring homes. Ironically, the current IZO will penalize folks that want usable wrap-around porches because the area of the porches and decks will now count against the overall square footage of the project.

Having represented more Buyers and Sellers of 90402 properties than any other real estate sales team, Pence Hathorn Silver, are in a unique position. On one side we have clients looking to sell for various reasons; death, birth, divorce, retirement, health or job reasons and they all want to sell for the most money that the market will bear, not wanting to leave money on the table.

On the other side we have home buyer clients looking to buy the best property that they can afford, in the best area they can afford. Some want to simply get into the school district, some want to build their dream home, some are trading down from bigger better properties, and some want to build a home to sell for a profit.  Of course, nobody wants to overpay.

The City Council has a tough job to try and accommodate all sides of the issue but it seems to me that the entire citizenry must be given a chance (certainly more than 30 days!) to fully understand what is at stake and an adequate period of time must be given to those that already own and want to develop or sell before the changes are implemented.

Where are you on this issue?

In real estate news, we have a brand new construction listing that will be open for a sneak preview grand opening party this Sunday. Come join me for a glass of champagne while you tour this gorgeous new estate.  802 San Vicente Blvd | Sunday, January 28th | Noon – 5pm.

 No truly NEW listings this week, just one re-listed property.

617 Georgina Avenue – Re-listed for $11,995,000. Originally listed last October for $12,495,000. This 5 bedrooms and 10 bath home is probably the most recognizable house in the neighborhood. It’s been on and off the market several times since it was constructed approximately 10 years ago. It sold March 3, 2016 for $7,077,000.

 One listing has gone into escrow.

 530 17th Street – A couple of price reductions have done the trick on this three-story home renovated with 6 bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms approximately 7,082 square feet. Lower level with theater and gym. Nice landscaped backyard with detached garage. Last sold April 16, 2014 for $4,500,000.

 No closed sales to report.

 I have a couple of great little investment properties that are not yet in MLS. Both these duplexes can be had for under $3M. Call me for details.

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