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Anti-Mansionization and Anti-Look Alike Regulation PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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APA Annual Conference Denver April Fools’ Day! Dwight Merriam, FAICP, CRE. Anti-Mansionization and Anti-Look Alike Regulation. Power to Regulate Appearance.

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Anti-Mansionization and Anti-Look Alike Regulation

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APA Annual Conference


April Fools’ Day!

Dwight Merriam, FAICP, CRE

Anti-Mansionization and Anti-Look Alike Regulation

Power to Regulate Appearance

  • Berman v. Parker (1954) and City of Los Angelesv. Taxpayers for Vincent (1984) --- Aesthetics alone as a basis for land use regulation

Full Disclosure

  • We are litigating an anti-mansionization ordinance against a municipality where they are using FAR


  • The cause?

    • Houses have been getting bigger, 50% larger than 1970, now 2,260 sq.ft.; scrape offs; sideways houses

  • Regulatory approaches

    • Set back requirements

    • Footprint

    • Floor area ratio

    • Height

    • Plate height

    • Cubic footage


  • FAR alone didn’t work

  • Add cubic footage, and plate heights are held down

  • “Cubic content ratio”

    • “… a measure of land use intensity, expressing the mathematical relationship between the cubic content of a building and the unit of land. It is arrived at by dividing gross cubic content, as calculated by multiplying building height…times exterior building width times exterior building depth of all structures by the gross area of the lot.”

Palm Beach

  • Cubic footage regulated in zone with lot size of at least 10,000 sq.ft.

  • Reduced from 5,000 to about 3,650 sq.ft.

Santa Monica

  • FAR, building height and coverage

  • Height from 35 to 30 then 28 ft.

  • Upper stories smaller

  • 25% of building above 14 ft. set back 5 ft. further from the street

San Jose

  • “Single-family house permit”


  • Started with second-floor additions

  • Floor area based on lot size

  • 30% encroachment plane from 6 ft. above property line

  • Larger lots get floor area bonus

Newton, Mass.

  • FAR and anti-demolition

  • Height reduced from 36 to 30 ft. and redefined to half-way up slope

Chelmsford, Mass.

  • Site plan review over 4,000 sq.ft.

Lincoln, Mass.

  • Site plan review when floor area of all structures exceeds 4,000 sq.ft. or 8% of the lot whichever is greater and all houses over 6,500 sq.ft.

  • Numerous design criteria for compatibility, open space, landscaping, solar and wind orientation, access, materials, screening from business or industrial uses

North Hempstead, NY

  • Scaled FAR

  • Varying maximum floor area

  • 240 sq.ft. bonus for certain conditions including covenant not to convert garage, building height, sloped roof

Winnetka, Ill.

  • FAR 0.42 on lots under 9,076 sq.ft.

Lake Forest, Ill.

  • No demolition permit for east side houses until replacement approved

  • Warning in sales contracts

  • FAR with volume – counts high-vaulted spaces; time-consuming calculation

Park Ridge, Ill.

  • Design review code

Hinsdale, Ill.

  • FAR 0.45 on lots under 10,000 sq.ft.

  • FAR 0.40 on larger lots

  • Garages included

Legal Issues in Anti-Mansionization

  • Takings

  • Procedural due process

  • Substantive due process (enabling statutes)

  • Equal protection

  • Creation of nonconformities

  • Variances

  • Local adjudicatory relief

  • Affordability

Anti-Look Alike

Georgetown, Texas

  • Vary lot sizes

  • Vary floor plans

Normal, Ill.

  • Architectural element required every 15 ft.

Montgomery, Ill.

  • “Traditional” development required

    • Recessed, detached or rear garages

    • Front porches

    • Traditional windows

Issaquah, Wash.

  • Building design regulations unconstitutionally vague

    • Anderson v. City of Issaquah, 70 Wn. App., 64 (Ct. App. 1993)

    • “Monotony of design shall be avoided. Efforts should be made to create an interesting project by use of complimentary details, functional orientation of buildings, parking and access provisions and relating the development to the site.”

Pacifica, Calif.

  • Regulations not unconstitutionally vague

    • Novi v. City of Pacifica, 169 Cal. App. 3d 678 (1st App. Dist. 1985)

    • Site development permit is denied if “there is insufficient variety in the design of the structure and grounds to avoid monotony in the external appearance.”

    • Why the difference? Hey, it’s California, says the court.

A Leading Case

  • Look-alike and anti-look alike ordinance upheld

    • Village of Hudson, Ohio v. Albrecht, Inc., 458 N.E.2d 852 (Ohio 1984)

    • Not the model of good drafting…

Legal Issues in Anti-Monotony

  • Takings

  • Procedural due process

  • Substantive due process (enabling statutes)

  • Equal protection

  • Creation of nonconformities

  • Variances

  • Local adjudicatory relief

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