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'cause burning all those synthetic materials into the atmosphere is really really great for the environmnet!

Posted by Andrew | March 3, 2008 8:44 AM

r not green? Brilliant!

Posted by Mr. Poe | March 3, 2008 8:50 AM

Looks like we need to lock up a few more self-styled commando nutcases for life.

Posted by David Wright | March 3, 2008 8:53 AM


Posted by Hernandez | March 3, 2008 8:53 AM

Reminds me of when I was going to school at Western and the Animal Liberation Front decided to liberate all the rats out of the Psychology lab... And then they all promptly died. Classic.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | March 3, 2008 8:56 AM

Damn you Will Ferrell!

Posted by TheMisanthrope | March 3, 2008 8:58 AM

You know, I hate to say it, but I sort of cheer whenever ELF burns down a suburban McMansion development. I know it's totally pointless and dangerous, and that the people who do it pretty much always get caught and slapped with some incredible draconian sentence -- but I hate those fucking houses and the people who live in them, and it does my flinty little heart good to see them burnt to the fucking ground. Not least of all because they're incredibly badly built, and burning is about all they're good for.

Posted by Judah | March 3, 2008 8:58 AM

Talk about an own goal---pull a stunt like this while a federal jury is deliberating on a case from your last big spectacular. Too bad, she looked like she had a reasonable shot at beating the case.

Posted by Toe Tag | March 3, 2008 8:59 AM

These houses are being paved over aquifers and wetlands and are definitely the absolute opposite of green. They will also spur the development of gas stations, Wal-marts, and strip malls surrounding the developments, which will spur yet more sprawling houses.

The people who buy these houses are the prime audience for Sound Transit's phase 2 of light rail -- the houses are in the middle of nowhere but only a 4-5 mile drive to a planned light rail station with hundreds of free parking spaces. These exurbanites can then travel to downtown Seattle or Microsoft without worrying about traffic or parking.

Posted by light rail advocate | March 3, 2008 9:08 AM

next stop: DUBAI!

you know, its getting so anyone with cans of gasoline & spray paint can call themselves ELF.

BTW, this isn't "terrorism", because there was no effort to terrify people - developers, corporations & LLC's aren't people - composed of people, sure. but technically, they're Capital.

its really just Political Vandalism. that i enjoy immensely.

Posted by max solomon | March 3, 2008 9:18 AM

Judah @7:
1) Arson sentences are "incredibly draconian" for a reason.
2) I'm not fond of those houses either, but how can you say you "hate" the people who live in them. Have you ever met any of these people?

Now, for some cynicism from my own flinty little heart: whaddya wanna bet that the developers, unable to sell such over-the-top homes in a crappy credit market, cooked up some phony ELF signs and lit up the houses themselves!

Posted by Joe M | March 3, 2008 9:20 AM

If I were the developer of these unsellable weights on the old balance sheet, I too, would torch them after my teenagers spraypaint ELF-ish stuff here and there. Follow the insurance money.

Posted by tomasyalba | March 3, 2008 9:20 AM

If only we had a Monorail, people wouldn't need to build McMansions....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 3, 2008 9:22 AM


the homes were unsold & unoccupied.

Posted by max solomon | March 3, 2008 9:24 AM

Joe M @ 11

1) Arson sentences -- particularly those associated with monkeywrenching -- are completely out of step with many other crimes and the attached sentences, such as Ephraim Schwartz's recent hand-slap for vehicular assault, or the minimum security short-term sentences for white collar crimes that cost investors billions every year.

2) Yes, of course I've met the people who live in those sorts of houses. In fact, I've helped build houses for them. One of my first jobs out of high school was working on McMansions in places like Bear Creek, and one of my job sites was on the Street of Dreams back in 1990. Crappy houses and arrogant homeowners with fucked-up priorities. Most of my dad's family still live in those kinds of houses, in places like Maple Valley, WA and Grass Valley, CA and, frankly, they suck.

Since you asked.

Posted by Judah | March 3, 2008 9:36 AM

I hate to be a cynic too but I think @11 and @12 might be on to something. I'd really like the g-men to look at the developer's books before they go around reflexively crackin' hippie skulls.

Posted by Brian | March 3, 2008 9:38 AM

I'm with the "the developer did it" crowd.

Posted by laterite | March 3, 2008 9:38 AM

Dumbfucks. I don't like sprawl either, or pseudo-green diversions, but. . . burn down already-built houses (ie. emit a bunch of carbon), knowing that more will be rebuilt in their place. . . what a stupid waste. Just makes them look like idiots.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | March 3, 2008 9:38 AM

@11, that was my first thought too.

First, it seems incredibly bad timing for ELF to be starting new fires when they are in the middle of a high profile court case for one if its members for a previous fire. Either they're being framed, or ELF is amazingly stupid (mind you, arson as a political statement is pretty stupid to begin with).

Second, it seems incredibly good timing for the developers, who are probably having a hard time moving these McMansions in a shitty real estate market. Torch them, collect the insurance money, get a bit of free publicity while you're at it. Problem solved.

Call me cynical.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | March 3, 2008 9:41 AM

@10 Max Solomon

From the American Heritage Dictionary:

Terrorism n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

Wow, that's EXACTLY what this is: use of violence against property with the intention of indimidating a segment of society (in this case, the people involved with property development and potential buyers) for ideological reasons.

Hey, I find this amusing too, and the fewer mcmansions out there, the better as far as I'm concerned. But call it what it is.

Posted by Hernandez | March 3, 2008 9:45 AM

So these are the 2007 Street of Dreams homes that have already been empty for 7-9 months.

Per the PI:
"The homes that burned were between 4,200 and 4,750 square feet in size, with prices up to nearly $2 million. None of the five showcase homes from the Street of Dreams last summer had been sold, said Grey Lundberg, a builder of one of the houses."

This is a classic case of the developer recouping his costs in a timely fashion.

Posted by Brian | March 3, 2008 9:46 AM

Build them back bigger than ever! We'll show those terrorists they can't win.

Seriously, though, a well-to-do friend of my grandmother loved wearing fur. Once, she had paint splashed on her by the animal-rights version of the ELF as she left the furrier here in Chicago (years ago). She turned right back around, bought three more coats, and walked out with them, carrying them in plastic bags.

Posted by Brim | March 3, 2008 9:48 AM

Read the article at least. The issue was the septic systems damaging wetlands. I have no idea what the carbon footprint of burning down one 4700 sq ft house is vs the carbon footprint of heating and powering it ad infinitum. Anybody?

Posted by elenchos | March 3, 2008 9:49 AM

I heard our neighborhood fire station in Juanita presumably on their way to responding to this, this morning.

I lives across the street from a tiny cul-de-sac crammed with McMansions. I'm no fan, but I wouldn't want my otherwise modest blue collar neighborhood on fire, either. Those are actual firefighting human beings in those pictures risking their life and limb.

Posted by PeterF | March 3, 2008 9:51 AM

"The fires, first reported about 4 a.m., were left to burn through the morning because firefighters were concerned about possible booby traps."


Posted by WTF | March 3, 2008 9:52 AM

i just had a really funny mental image when I read "the developer did it" crowd pointing the finger away from the elves.

just switch "the developer did it" with "the jews" and switch "McMansion" with "911" and the psychology of rationalizing violence based on one's ideological bent is apparent.

nobody likes to think that people they can sympathize with are terrorists. but like hernandez said at 20, it is what it is.

for instance, it could be a frame-up. or it could be the ELF saying to the court that they can prosecute one of their own but "the movement" will live on. that they're all powerful and will continue to torch buildings (carbon-footprint be damned!) with impunity.

it is ironic that the farther out to the fringe you go, the more you have in common. i would think eric rudolph and these enviro-terrorists would get along famously if they didn't talk politics.

Posted by some dude | March 3, 2008 9:57 AM

How many real estate investors and developers are contemplating arson as a cost effective means to dispose of and get reimbursed for property that will not sell and cannot be financed?

I look forward to the insurance company's investigation.

Just saying that throughout history, we haven't always had the ELF, and yet--unoccupied buildings still burn down for "mysterious" reasons.

Posted by tpn | March 3, 2008 9:58 AM

"The controversial development was approved by the Snohomish County Council last March after fierce opposition from neighbors who said the land was replete with critical wetlands needed to protect an aquifer used by about 20,000 people in the area."

What if it's just an angry neighbor throwing misdirection on the issue via some stupid ELF graffiti?

Posted by Trevor | March 3, 2008 9:59 AM

@23 Don't forget the carbon footprint and resources required to produce and transport the materials that have been destroyed, and will likely be replaced. Although, in this market the arson may actually serve its intended function of halting development.

Posted by poo poo | March 3, 2008 10:00 AM

This smells like insurance fraud to me. Too convenient to blame it on some Bolsheviks. The market among Hummer drivers is not expanding, this was a lot of expensive inventory to carry. Just like some failing restaurants somehow become very flammable.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | March 3, 2008 10:15 AM

I consider my self an environmentalist but every time these little fuckers do something like this I feel a compulsion to buy an SUV just to stick it to the self righteous elitists who feel they have a right to any action they deem appropriate to further their little cause.

Posted by Giffy | March 3, 2008 10:18 AM


but THE MAN writes the dictionary.

i concede your point. i suppose it just chafes me that some stupid hippy gets lumped in with al queda. there is a significant difference on the terror scale.

Posted by max solomon | March 3, 2008 10:22 AM

Judah@15-- point taken on arrogant homeowners with fucked up priorities. But I live near plenty of those in the city too. Never saw such a bunch of entitled dickheads, but there are also many other neighbors I like. On the other hand, I do have some good friends who enjoy living in eastside sprawl, though I don't share their taste in houses.

Posted by Joe M | March 3, 2008 10:23 AM

@26, I've got zero sympathy for the tactics of the ELF, but I'm firmly in the developer did it crowd because it's the most logical place to start looking. When I was growing up in the 80's the town I lived in was beset by "suspicious" fires in unoccupied buildings and every one of them was set by an owner who was overextended and looking for a way out. People do dumb things when they're scared and threatened and I'm sure more than one of those developers was receiving unpleasant phone calls from an unfriendly banker.

Posted by Brian | March 3, 2008 10:25 AM

4,200 to 4,750 square feet?!? I guess I knew that the McMansios were huge, but I'd never really thought about a square footage number. That is insane.

Posted by Julie | March 3, 2008 10:27 AM

If people start living in reasonable sized spaces, then the terrorists have won.

Posted by J.R. | March 3, 2008 10:32 AM

I liked Joyce Taylor's righteous indignation as she read this story this morning. She's so perky through the murder and mayhem stories, but seemed truly disturbed by this one.

I don't think ELF does the cause much good by stunts like this (if it was really ELF), but I just can't get too worked up about it in light of the rest of what's happening in the world right now.

Empty houses burning...I'm just not sure this indicates the breakdown of law and order -- we'll have to see.

Posted by ahava | March 3, 2008 10:32 AM


Who's scared of fire, right?

Posted by Sirkowski | March 3, 2008 10:35 AM

i don't know one way or the other, i just got a kick out of the idea that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. the morality of the situation is entirely dependent upon your subjective relation to the people and ideology involved.

Posted by some dude | March 3, 2008 10:36 AM

Are these homes famous or something? Everything I've read has cited "Street of Dreams" like it's common knowledge. I've never heard of them and I live not too far from a much smaller and much older house.

Posted by PA Native | March 3, 2008 10:43 AM

Dictionary or no, I'm saving "terrorist" for those who actually maim or kill people. This admittedly boneheaded and illegal act is vandalism, or sabotage if you wish, but frankly, I don't feel terrorized by it at all. Now what we're doing to the planet on the other hand, that freaks the hell out of me.

Posted by Spence | March 3, 2008 10:45 AM

Burning dreams distress me.

Burning gluttonous megahomes? Yeah, not so much.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 3, 2008 10:45 AM

I don't care what the dictionary says.

Politics or no, arson is arson and vandalism is vandalism.

We should reserve the label of "terrorism" for acts of violence against civilians, like the one that killed my friend Joe some years ago.

Posted by anonymous | March 3, 2008 11:24 AM

#26 ...just switch "the ELF did it" with "the jews" and switch "McMansion" with "Reichstag" and the psychology of rationalizing violence based on one's ideological bent is apparent.

Who are the ecoterrorists? The people and businesses who poison the land and water in the name of profit causing hundreds of thousands of preventable cancer deaths and many other diseases or a handful of people attempting to make such endeavors less profitable?

Posted by chris | March 3, 2008 11:31 AM

I fear that the actions of this one renegade elf is going to give elves in general a bad reputation.

Posted by gnome | March 3, 2008 11:39 AM

It's not easy being green.

Posted by Kermit | March 3, 2008 11:42 AM

Two things:

1. Probably somebody angry cause they lost their mortgage due to a jack up in APR rate.

2. Or an insurance scam by the builder.

But, even if it is ELF, building more suburban mega-homes is just plain stupid.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 3, 2008 11:42 AM


"Street of Dreams" is the NW's version of the yearly speculative Megahome exposition that nearly every city has. a showcase of Haute-bougousie Retrotecture, conspicuous consumption, and waste of resources. but now with the Master Builders of King County's "BuiltGreen" stamp of greenwash.

in Cincinnati where i grew up, it was called "Home-a-rama".

Posted by max solomon | March 3, 2008 11:42 AM

From Dan Savage's post today regarding the P.I. article:
"...The story goes on to report that the four houses that burned were for sale, and that, owing to the market conditions, realtors were having a hard time lining up buyers. An explosive device was hidden in a fifth houses, but it failed to ignite. That house has a buyer lined upů a buyer that might be having second thoughts about living in a house that someone else wants to burn to the ground."

Posted by chris | March 3, 2008 11:47 AM

i think the action should be commended. but what's next? will the land be healed from the developmental rapists?

did the developers torch it for insurance? doesn't sound so far fetched. perhaps environmental liberators should adopt the american flag as their symbol for domestic liberation, of course that symbol is being used world wide for..uh... resource liberation/resource rape. Greedy Old Predators, Republican Nazi Convention, Draconian Nazi Convention. pick or choose. i'm thinking unbuilding the houses woulda probably been a healthier action, alas, the powers that be don't seem to jibe on those kinda terms. it's so hard to find meaningful work these days.

i will save my breath to condemn the hegemonic purveyors of violence in this world.

maybe you can switch "the jews" with "zionists" cuz i know all americans aren't neocons, like i know zionist don't speak for jewry. and speaking of 911. wtc falling down... coulda repurposed the building for beneficial ends, as opposed to giving the eichmann beaurocrats a platform.

words are bomb, n'est-ce pas? best look that up in some dictionary less words twist.

people aren't property, property aren't people.

"living planet seeks mutualist symbiotes, parasites need not apply"

Posted by nn | March 3, 2008 2:07 PM


So, if the Klan burns a black church in Alabama, and no one gets hurt, it is not terrorism? And when Eric Rudolph was bombing abortion clinics, it only counted when he killed someone?

Posted by Toe Tag | March 3, 2008 2:59 PM

I call a boycott on the word "terrorist." It's one of those words that people use when they're too lazy to get specific.

Al Qaeda are "murderers" or "mass-murderers" or "bombers" or "killers" or "torturers."

E.L.F. are "arsonists" or "vandals" or "fire-bombers."

Linguistic precision is the enemy of political jingoism.

Posted by Olaf | March 3, 2008 3:47 PM

These reports are giving ELF a bad name. I wish the reporters would talk about good things that have been done by people using the acronym ELF... like the ELF-er who gave me a re-usable cloth shopping bag! That was great.

Personally I think this is a fake ELF case. Burning houses is so bad for the environment. I don't think anyone who was actually radical enough to commit extreme direct action would want to unleash all those toxicities into our atmosphere.

Posted by monkeybum | March 4, 2008 5:52 PM

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