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Anti-McMansion Group Lobbies for Regulation in CA

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

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Coastal neighborhoods of San Diego have begun organizing in protest of “McMansions”—miniature, contemporary mansions—that residents say are taking advantage of a developmental loophole and ridding the areas of their architectural charm.

The group, Citizens for Responsible Coastal Development, is proposing changes to a city code referred to as “the 50-percent rule,” which says that work on a home would qualify for a remodel permit instead of a costlier coastal development permit if at least 50 percent of the home’s existing exterior walls are kept.



La Jolla, California, architect Paul Benton noted that the rule at its core makes sense.

“The 50-percent rule started out with the best of intentions,” he said. “It’s a good rule meant to be an escape valve for smaller remodels.”

While the rule was meant to aid in small remodels of 1940s-era beach cottages the areas are known for (such as adding a kitchen or an additional bedroom), the CRCD says that developers are taking advantage, stripping down the homes and turning them into something destructively new.

"Each neighborhood has a soul, or a feel to it, and I think this is really disrupting that community feeling," said Sharon Wampler, of CRCD.

In addition to revising the 50 percent rule to include a regulation on the size of the remodel, the organization is also looking at an incentive-based plan that would encourage developers to build entirely new homes provided they follow certain design standards.

Several city planning groups have signed on in support of the concept, while developers are shunning the idea of more regulation, adding that the style of larger homes is in demand.

Home owner Laurel Miller, also a CRCD member, said the group just wants to support development that isn’t detrimental to existing structures and is simply seeking to make the development process more transparent.

“The 50-percent rule was not meant to take every structure down to three sticks and a crossbar. It was not meant to start (construction) over again, so developers, who are doing this for profit, do not have to pay for costly permitting.”


Tagged categories: Developers; Good Technical Practice; North America; Regulations; Residential Construction

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