So-called McMansions are being blamed for ruining views, diluting the character of neighborhoods, and using too many resources. Nationwide, the accumulation of more stuff and growing appetite for status symbols has spurred home sizes ever upwards.
In 1973, the median size for a new American home was 1,525 square feet; in 2006, it was 2,248 square feet. Our homes represent our biggest environmental footprint, even eclipsing transportation, and the bigger they are, the more resources they require to build, and the more energy they need to maintain.
Last month the City Council of Minneapolis unanimously passed a law restricting home size to half the square footage of each lot. Atlantic Beach, Fla. has ruled the same. Picturesque, and increasingly popular, Boulder County, Colo., is considering a rule that would charge a premium for homes larger than 3,000 square feet. The Los Angeles City Council is allegedly considering some type of restriction as well.
While these new regulations certainly have some greens cheering, they are engendering push back from property rights advocates, as well as some who say they may restrict the needs of special needs residents. However, couldn't the latter complaint be easily addressed with waivers for those who need to make their homes more accessible for medical reasons, much as special parking spaces are alloted?
The battle against McMansions is another piece of the cultural war between the symbols of excess and good environmental stewardship. Just as large SUVs seem to be falling out of favor, so may be the largest homes.
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