Travelblogues From Tarzana Day #5

If you take a driving tour around Tarzana, you will notice a trend

called “mansionization.” You will notice oversized new houses where they have torn down the existing house replacing it with one that is huge in comparison and certainly much larger than surrounding houses. They look out of place to the eye because most are built on undersized lots with turrets and faux-chateau pretensions. You are probably familiar with this trendy phenomenon. You may have it going on in your neighborhoods as well. The Tarzana Property Owners Association (TOPA) believes they are here to preserve and enhance the quality of life for residents of our community, so they recently passed a Mansionization Ordinance. First is the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, which was passed in June of 2008 and limits the maximum size of homes as a function of the zone and lot size. The second stage is underway right now and that is to better define the hillside areas. Finally the third state is still in early planning which will develop a Hillside Mansionization Ordinance.

I mention these ordinances because today I was invited to help one of the neighbors residing on the valley floor to pick and take lemons. The family bought one acre of land where an existing house resides. They built a magnificent guesthouse, which will house them as they bull doze the main house and rebuild something wonderful. They are working madly to get the process done before some mansionization ordinances come in to play. They fall into the category of 50% of the lot size, so they have lots of room for a legal mansion.

I took away knowledge, a great appreciation and awe of people who can work all of the angles in the mighty process of designing and building a house from the ground up. I took away a huge bag of lemons.  I thought of the saying…when life gives you lemons… and began the process of making lemonade even though it does give me heartburn.

I interviewed an architect who has been residing here in Tarzana since 1959. After surveying all the possibilities offered in Tarzana at the time he was buying a piece of land to build a family home, he chose a beautifully wooded piece of property containing dozens of Eucalyptus and Pine trees, located just above the din of Van Alden. He wanted this piece of land and only this one.  It so happened that it came with covenants and restrictions that would run with and bind the land forever. The agent at the time told him this restriction was that he or anyone in his family could not sell the land to any Asiatic persons. He was stunned because his Chinese aunt was sitting right next to him and as the agent imparted these words, flashes of awful memories enduring World War II as a boy in Manila, Philippines came back to him. He knew that Asian blood ran in his veins, but he signed the paper anyway. What did it mean to him? He said he wanted that piece of land to design and build his dream home and so what did a declaration of covenants and restrictions mean? Nothing.

Now look at Tarzana. We are a perfect example of America’s melting pot; covenants, restrictions declarations, be damned.

Lovely friends Linda and Bob came to visit and cheer us up. It was great visiting and it made time speed. It helped Skips pain wane.  It struck us as funny that our conversations kept drifting back to the death of friends, their illnesses, our own and talk of folks gaining in age.  There is an adage that says, “No pain no gain.” I would like to rearrange that one to read, “Gain no pain.”

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