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

Comments (3)
  1. Nick Joanides says:

    I understand the owner’s concern, however think you may need to be careful what you wish for. Would you rather suffer for 6-9 months from the noise of 5 construction projects taking place at once or would you rather have them allow only one at a time, then suffer from construction noise for up to 45 months as they get built back to back to back??? Construction is a part of real estate. The noise is annoying for existing owners. Personally, I think I’d rather get it over with and get back to peace and quiet in 9 months rather than dealing with it for nearly 4 years straight. The city is correct to ticket the illegally parked cars. So that should alleviate one of the concerns.

  2. Nick Joanides says:

    As the news report stated, the owner’s home value is likely to increase as a result of the adjacent new construction. As such, the owner is being compensated for the inconvenience. Again, it’s annoying, but I think, with the parking situation sorted out, that the neighbors or fortunate to get them all done at once and the entire neighborhood will benefit from the completed homes. On the other note, would hurt values of the older homes if developers were forced to wait for each new home to be built. Developers would not purchase properties if they have to wait 3-5 years to start construction. The price we pay for progress. A bit surprised this warranted a “news” report.

    1. Mr. Joanides, there are studies to show that small homes next door to “McMansions” actually lose value. But beyond that point, the problem really ins’t about noise. I can speak from experience as there are 4 construction sites on my block, too. The most important issue for us is with that many construction sites at once, it causes health problems from the dust. Almost every resident on my block has a chronic cough and my son and are being treated with inhalers though we’ve never had asthma or any prior breathing issues of any kind. As for the parking situation, we have that problem, too. And maybe parking enforcement showed up for the TV cameras but they do not show up regularly when requested by residents. But on the rare occasion that they do, they do not ticket the vehicles of construction workers. Instead they go to the sites and ask them to move. Which they do…around the block and straight back to the spot in which they were illegally parked in the first place. Parking enforcement also does nothing about the fact that crews illegally close lanes at their convenience for loading and unloading as well as park cranes blocking the entire street with no sort of traffic control. This was manageable when there was one construction site but with four, there isn’t a single day of the week we can walk down our sidewalk without an obstruction or drive down the block without having to dodge construction vehicles or u-turn and go back the way we came.

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