City Council Cracks Down on Supersized Houses
posted by October 6 at 18:21 PMon
This was the problem: You live in a humble little bungalow next to another little bungalow, both on small property lots. Then a developer buys the lot next to yours and constructs the biggest vinyl-sided blond dog allowable under the zoning regulations. To boot, the thing has two garage doors and a tundra for a driveway. These are the mega houses. And people haaaaate them.
So today the city council, lead by Council Member Richard Conlin, unanimously passed legislation that reins in the out-of-scale houses in single-family neighborhoods. Whereas before a house on a small lot was allowed a 1,750 square foot footprint, now the size is tied to a percentage of the total lot size; the smaller the lot, the smaller the house. The ordinance also limits the visibility of garage doors, decreases the right to overshadow neighboring houses, and waives requirements for off-street parking on lots smaller than 3,000 feet.
These look like good ideas. While big buildings are swell in parts of the city that are zoned for bulky things, a massive garage-faced house can ruin a block of single-family houses. But the risk, any time zoning gets very specific in a limited space, is that it will inadvertently promote a uniform prescript for all the new houses built under these conditions. For example, way back when, the city wrote rules requiring that townhouses build tall fences around tiny impractical yards and required off-street parking—all while providing an incentive to build the shitbuggers in endless four-packs. What a mess that turned out to be.