13 reasons to hate McMansions

City Watch makes a case against McMansions – here are a few of the 13 reasons given:

Some people hate them because they conflict with the City Planning Commission’s anti-mansionization policies contained in their Do Real Planning manifesto.

Some people hate them because they conflict with the policies of the Framework Element, a key part of LA’s General Plan. The Framework is clear that new residential developments must respect the character and scale of existing residences. But, as anyone can see when driving through neighborhoods blighted by mansionization, the scale and character of McMansions intensely clash with existing homes, whether they are Spanish Revival, Tudor, mid-century, or even ranch-style…

McMansions routinely include two or even three car attached garages. This feature not only incentivizes automobile driving, but the new double driveways also wipe out green space and trees in front yards and parkways. But since the attached garages are routinely used for recreation, storage, and other habitable uses, the owners park their luxury cars on their front yard driveways, next to sidewalks…

Because McMansions are huge, they devour enormous amounts of construction materials, such as cement, metals, plastics, and wood. Furthermore, because they are shoddily constructed, they will have a short life-span. Future buyers will quickly tear them down to avoid the extensive repairs necessary to keep McMansions habitable. This short life span, then, also adds to the rubble created by the mansionization process.

Some of the reasons given are specific to Los Angeles, which has been debating measures to limit McMansions for a few years. But, many of the reasons could apply anywhere: such homes don’t fit the existing architecture in the neighborhood, they are generally large, and they require the use of numerous resources ranging from demolition and construction to maintaining the home over the years and what is required to be part of suburban sprawl.

If the opposite case were to be made – 13 reasons for McMansions? – I would guess the primary reason would be property rights. The argument would suggest that if an American owns a piece of land, they should be able to do with it what they wish. Of course, people and organizations don’t have complete freedom; particularly in cities, there are a variety of zoning laws and regulations that limit how property can be used. But, if a plot of land is in a residential area, should neighbors or the local government be able to restrict what kind of single-family home is built?

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