Monster Homes: Enough is Enough

Boulder, Colorado is forcing people to pay extra for a home over 3,000 square feet. Alantic Beach and Minneapolis are restricting houses to half the square footage of the lot. In Salt Lake City, districts full of bungalows and craftsman-style houses are being mowed down. "It's a pretty popular thing to go back in and rebuild or knock down now," said George G. Shaw, the city's planning director. "People want to improve their property; they want more square footage."

Some say it is fueled by increased amenities. "Home entertainment centers used to be a TV set and a video recorder," said John R. Nolon, a law professor at Pace University in New York and counsel to its Land Use Law Center. "Now it's an entire room." Others call buyers show-offs. ""Even people who had more disposable income 20 years ago weren't inclined to be ostentatious," Nolon said. "Being audacious wasn't considered as [much a] part of the American character as it is nowadays."

According to the LA Times, in Boulder, the meian size of a house exploded from 3,900 square feet in 1990 to 6,300 square feet last year and officials are trying to cap this, tie the house to the size of neighbouring houses and give bonuses for green building. But this is the land of the free: Ken Probst lives in a 4,000-square-foot, solar-powered house in the mountain town of Nederland. Like most residents of this left-leaning region, he considers himself an environmentalist."But I also support the property rights guaranteed in our Constitution," said Probst, 56, an engineer and physicist. "This is strictly handing a carrot to the NIMBY crowd." Other say the same: "It totally takes away our rights, It takes away our freedom of choice." ::LA Times

As long as homebuyers don't think about the externalities, the costs of the school buses picking up their kids and the effect of their drive into town, the costs down the road of heating these monsters, and as long as builders can use cheap modern construction methods to provide quantity without quality without regard to efficiency (see energuide post here.) We will get more monster homes. As long as property rights trump climate change we will never see control.