Mega-mansion development is decimating LA County’s tree population: study

Researchers say “mansionization” destroyed roughly 55 percent of urban forest in Baldwin Park

May.May 02, 2017 03:40 PM
Home under construction near the Westside (Getty Images)

L.A.’s mega-mansion development craze, and an increase in single-family homeowners knocking down walls to build more rooms is having an impact on the county’s landscape – literally.

A study released Monday found that for each home expansion decimates one-third of the existing green cover on each single-family lot.

Researchers from USC said the uptick in large development, known by critics as “mansioniation,” reduced the amount of trees and shrubbery in Baldwin Park by 55 percent, the Pasadena Star-News reported. Green cover on single-family lots in that city dropped 70 percent in 2000 to 31 percent in 2009.

“What we saw was lot-line development, sometimes referred to as mansionization,” said Travis Longcore, professor of architecture at USC and a co-author of the report, to the Pasadena Star-News. “And when there is a larger footprint for a building, there’s more hard-scape, less trees, less grass and less shrubs.”

The reduction of trees has the potential to increase temperatures in Los Angeles. More concrete driveways and bigger homes increase the “heat island effect,” in which air temperatures multiply as the sun radiates off hard-scape, according to Longcore.

Many homeowners see greenery as purely ornamental as opposed to having an impact on public health, said Tracey Takeuchi, professor of plant sciences in the Department of Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona.

“The rate of asthma is increased in areas where trees are not present because trees are very effective at filtering dust particles,” Takeuchi told the Star.

While researchers express concern over bigger houses, the market for mega-mansions is still hot.

Developers such as Bruce Makowsky and Nile Niami are betting big with their $250 million and $500 million mansions, respectively, in hopes to cater to the world’s 0.01 percent, The Real Deal previously reported. [PSN]Subrina Hudson

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