Hillside Ordinance Will Have Major Impact on Hillside Areas of the Westside

The landmark Baseline Hillside Ordinance, approved by the City Council, was signed by Mayor Villaraigosa on March 25 and went into effect May 9. This ordinance will have a major impact on future single family building projects in hillside locations much like the approval of the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance that was past a few years ago limiting the size of a home that can be built based on a calculation involving the size and width of the lot. Hillside properties were previously exempt from the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance.

This is the third step in the City’s attempt to prevent out-of-scale single-family development in the city of Los Angeles. The ordinance will apply to approximately 133,000 lots.

The Baseline Hillside Ordinance will reduce the allowable area for a site, change the way in which area is calculated, change the height limits and how they are calculated, and create limits on the amount of grading that can be done to a site. Like the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, this ordinance will allow individual neighborhoods to adjust the baseline limits to better fit their community’s character and scale through an overlay option.

The ordinance’s proposed FAR (building size to lot size ratio) is based on lot size, zone, and steepness of slopes on the property.

A survey is currently required for a hillside lot. The new ordinance  requires that the surveyor prepare a Slope Analysis Map that delineates the portions of the property which fall under each Slope Band (interval) and include a tabulation of the total area of the lot (in square feet) within each interval.

To determine the Maximum Residential Floor Area, one must multiply the area of each Slope Band times the percentage allowed for that slope. Then, add up all the amounts to get the total area allowed for the site. Residential Floor Area bonuses are also provided for (as in the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance), with additional options related to hillside massing and grading.
Important exemptions and criteria have been established but they are difficult to explain. You are strongly encouraged to an architect who specializes in the Los Angeles area and you can also visit the City of Los Angles City Planning Web-site.

(Source: Palisades Post, LA Times)

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