Battle in Redlands, California over teardown McMansion

There is an involved public battle taking place in Redlands, California between one homeowner and his neighbors as the neighbors try to stop his proposed teardown:

Monte Vista Estates residents lost another round in their fight against a neighbor who plans to tear down his house and build a larger one that will block their views of the San Bernardino Valley and mountains…

Hunt and the neighbors referred to McMansions — a derogatory term for oversized luxury homes — while discussing Canada’s project. They said the house, though it meets city zoning requirements, would begin a major change in the ranch-style neighborhood as houses are remodeled to reclaim their views.

Hunt told Canada that she values the rights of property owners but said she did not understand why he would want a house so much taller. His existing house has one of the best views in the neighborhood, she said…

Biggs said allowing such a large home — neighbors estimate it at 3,800 square feet — in an older, established neighborhood goes against Redlands’ pattern of preserving historic homes and older neighborhoods.

“The impetus for the Historic and Scenic Resource ordinance was to prevent that kind of shift from what we have, which is so different from the rest of the world … to the McMansion approach where you build to the absolute limits of the zoning ordinance,” Biggs said.

Two interesting points here:

1. As I’ve noted before, when neighbors or opponents of a particular home want to drive home their point, using the term “McMansion” is quite effective. I can’t think of any other term for such a house that would be so effective as it ties the homeowner to all sorts of negative ideas such as bad taste and excess.

2. Biggs’ comment about “the McMansion approach” is revealing. Indeed, my study of the use of the word McMansion found of times when references to McMansions was really about something bigger and not just one way: a way of life involving sprawl or excessive consumption. Living a McMansion life might include (and these are examples of how the term McMansion was applied to other objects) having a large RV, building a large mausoleum or headstone in a cemetery, and eating ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. In this point of view, McMansions may simply be emblematic of a negative American lifestyle.

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