Photo essay demonstrating LA’s mansionization

Here is a photo essay that shows the incongruity of a number of teardown McMansions in Los Angeles:

A developer wants to make as much money as he can as quickly as he can, where the only people whose feelings or quality of life he cares about are himself and whoever buys his newly-built mansion. A normal, thinking, feeling person could find many reasons why she would not want to rob her neighbor of privacy or sunlight by building a looming addition onto her house, with perhaps the most powerful reason being that her neighbors would hate her for it. A developer who will never live in a house he has built doesn’t have any relationships with neighbors to preserve. He actually stands to benefit from being indifferent/contemptuous to neighbors’ concerns, especially if it means he is able to build a bigger, more expensive, more obtrusive structure without the impediment of a guilty conscience. And don’t forget the long, noisy, messy, utterly unpleasant experience of living near a house under construction…

And that’s perhaps the biggest danger of mansionization. Regardless of what you think about mansionization and how it should or shouldn’t be regulated, there’s something about it that I’ve found to be consistently true.

When the first mansion goes up on a block of more modestly-sized homes, it sticks out like a garish eyesore. But if a second mansion is built on the same block, that first mansion suddenly doesn’t look nearly as big and out of place as it did before…

Three of a kindAnd at that point, the entire block might as well be mansionized — and chances are it will be. Having one mansion next to you is bad enough, but if the house on the other side of you gets mansionized, blocking sun and privacy from two sides, who would want to stay? Better to take what you can get and sell, leaving the house to a developer or new buyer who would inevitably go big — and another reminder of the now “old” neighborhood will be gone.

The critique of these new homes focuses on three areas:

1. It is often developers, and not neighbors, who go forward with the oversized homes. Neighbors might be more sensitive to the needs of others but developers are simply trying to maximize the property for profit. This may be true though there are plenty of cases where people buy properties with smaller homes and then make the decision to build a huge home. Developers aren’t the only ones to blame here.

2. The architecture and design of these new large homes are lacking. The homes are unnecessarily large and depart from traditional Southern California styles (stucco, clay tile roofs, etc.). These new homes clash with the older, smaller homes.

3. McMansions spread like a contagion: once a neighborhood or block has one, newer ones are soon to follow. The hint is that the teardowns need to be stopped at the start. A number of LA neighborhoods have been pushing for housing restrictions. But, it may be that one of these homes has to be built before neighbors really rally around the cause.

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