Efforts pick up to fight coastal 'McMansions'

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jan 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-26 20:38:51-05

People in San Diego's quaint coastal areas say their neighborhoods are being overtaken by miniature mansions.

And they feel like they have no say. 

Now, their efforts to get city code changed to get more restrictions on the so-called "McMansions" appear to be picking up. 

Sharon Wampler, who lives in Birdrock, says developers are buying older, smaller homes in her picturesque neighborhood, expanding them into larger homes, and flipping them.

Wampler says developers are able to do it because of an exception in city code that says they don't need a coastal development permit if they keep at least 50 percent of the home's existing exterior walls. That gets them around the larger public permit process.

"Each neighborhood has a soul, or a feel to it, and I think this is really disrupting that community feeling," she said.

Wampler's group, called Citizens for Responsible Coastal Development, is now floating an incentive-based plan that would allow developers to build entirely new homes if they follow certain community character standards, like setbacks and landscape. 

City planning groups in La Jolla, Point Loma, and Ocean Beach are supporting the concept. It just got a thumbs up from Torrey Pines.

C.A. Marengo, who develops some of the homes, said more regulation is not needed. He said it's about good design. He added that community character is always evolving, and that larger homes with volume ceilings are simply what's in demand.

City Councilwoman Barbara Bry, whose district includes Birdrock, said in a statement she's approached city staff about the development rules. She's also waiting to hear more from community planning groups.