SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA) – Professional musician Kevin Chown certainly isn’t opposed to a little noise, but the sound of hammering, sawing and nail guns has the Sherman Oaks homeowner’s head pounding.
“This is my neighborhood, this isn’t your construction site,” he said.
Chown travels for work, and was gone from May until December last year. When he returned on New Year’s Eve, not five homes were being built around his house on Hartsook Street.
One house on each side, one directly across the street and two catty-corner to him now share a lot that used to be occupied by a single-story home.
Chown said when he first returned to L.A. and drove down his street, he “didn’t recognize the place.”
Each house is between two to four times the size of the house it replaced – making them what some refer to as “McMansions.”
“There’s more square footage in this house than three of my houses, and I had the biggest house on the street when I left in May,” he said.
Chown wants to make it clear he isn’t opposed to change.
“Things like this are always going to happen in the city, but what I have the biggest problem with is doing them all at the same time to the people who live here,” he said.
Over the past two months, Chown has recorded on his cell phone things he feels have affected his quality of life.
All-day construction noise as the five houses go up at once, construction crews double parking at the end of the cul de sac, semi trucks blocking the road.
“The level of noise is unacceptable, the level of dust is unacceptable,” he said.
Chown claims the day after the house next door was torn down, a large crack appeared in his pool and across his living room ceiling.
He says some of the construction workers have little respect for his property.
“He was driving a backhoe…as he came out of the gate there, he couldn’t get into the street to get to his trailer, so he drives over my yard, in front of me,” Chown said.
After that day, Chown said he contacted his councilman’s office – and 2 On Your Side.
“I want the policies of the city to change so they don’t allow such consolidated construction to take place at one time, and affect only a few people so severely,” he said.
Eric Sussman is a professor of real estate at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. He says cities don’t take into consideration how many homes are under construction when they issue new permits. Once someone owns the land and obtains the proper permits, construction can begin.
Sussman says “McMansions” used to be just a Westside phenomenon, but that has changed.
“It’s contagious, so land values in Sherman Oaks and Studio City have also skyrocketed, so it’s not surprising the trend has caught fire,” he said.
When asked if the trend is temporary or a sign of things to come, Sussman said, “I think the truth is in the in between. We’ve had the longest economic up-cycle in U.S. history now, without a recession, so most people think that will create some pressure in the other direction.”
The new homes will likely boost Chown ‘s home value, but it will come at a price.
Councilman David Ryu’s issued the following statement on Kristine Lazar’s report on residential construction:
“Construction is a concern in residential neighborhoods across Council District Four, especially when a large number of projects overwhelm one community. Amidst a housing boom, this concern has grown throughout Los Angeles. For the most part, current City law doesn’t restrict multiple projects in the same neighborhood from being undertaken simultaneously, but the City needs to be doing more to coordinate construction. The cumulative impacts of simultaneous construction is something I have been working to address with the new Hillside Construction Regulations in place in many hillside neighborhoods of my district, but it should be considered for more neighborhoods in Los Angeles to balance neighborhood construction with neighborhood quality of life.” – Councilmember David Ryu, District Four