Nanny State of the Week: The Burbank homes are too darn big

By   /   February 20, 2017  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 116 of 121 in the series Nanny State of the Week
Courtesy of Flickr user Ashley Rehnblom

NOT TOO BIG: A famous mansion in Burbank, California. New construction will need to conform to new rules or get an exemption from the Burbank planning board.

Burbank, California, is a haven for some of the wealthiest stars and moguls of the entertainment industry. It’s a beautiful place to live, so it’s unsurprising that so many have made their homes there.

But apparently, there comes a point at which “big” becomes “too big.”

The Burbank City Council has imposed new zoning restrictions that go into effect this month that determine just how large any new home can be in the jurisdiction. Adopted to combat the “mansionization” of homes in one of the richest cities in the country, the ordinance imposes regulations on landscaping, number of stories on a home, garage design and more. The ordinance states its purpose is to “enhance the character of Burbank’s residential neighborhoods.”

Houses that already exist are exempt from the new regulation — apparently they reached one mansion too many before deciding they needed to bring the heavy hand of government regulation to new construction.

As the Burbank Leader reported:

The city has been working on making amendments to its single-family home rules and guidelines for more than three years after several residents voiced concerns about large and bulky houses that were being built and did not conform with surrounding neighborhoods.

To slow down the number of large houses being constructed in the city, the City Council adopted the Interim Development Control Ordinance in March 2015 to restrict what types of homes people could build while city staff members were working on changes to the code.

The city instituted an exception: Homes that are on lots smaller than 7,000 square feet can apply for an exemption from the new rules.

This is not a rare situation. Many Los Angeles-area neighborhoods and cities have imposed zoning restrictions, and Measure S, on the ballot in March, will impose some of the most sweeping restrictions on zoning and housing construction in the country.

Zoning and housing restrictions are some of the biggest reasons why prices in the biggest cities are so out of control. As economists Ed Glaeser and Joseph Gyourko have found, “evidence suggests that zoning and other land controls play the dominant role in making housing expensive.”

Glaeser and Gyourko found that this applies specifically in California and in big east coast cities — and their work was published in 2002, before some of the most onerous restrictions like Measure S were even conceptualized.

Part of 121 in the series Nanny State of the Week
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  3. Skim is in: CT lawmakers want to ban whole milk in day cares
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  5. Nanny state of the week: SC — and Schumer — for duplicative efforts to ban powdered alcohol
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  115. Nanny State of the Week: No more taco trucks on Santa Ana corners?
  116. Nanny State of the Week: The Burbank homes are too darn big
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Kevin Glass is Director of Policy and Outreach at the Franklin Center. He has covered politics and policy in Washington, D.C. for eight years. A graduate of Colgate University, Kevin has served as Assistant Managing Editor at the Washington Examiner and Managing Editor at Townhall. He has been published by National Review, The American Spectator, and The Atlantic, among others. He lives in Washington, D.C.