April 04, 2007

So. Building Codes.

Good idea? Bad idea?

Where does your neighbor's right to build whatever he pleases next door to you end? When he cuts off your view? When he makes the neighborhood too ugly?

And tell me, O my libertarian friends: aren't there real estate developers against whom you harbor some ill-will? I mean, in the middle of the night—when there's no one else around to hear you, least of all the ghost of Ayn Rand—don't you wake up once in a while and say, "damned McMansions. How come so many people have so much more money than they do taste?"

Come on: admit it. When you walk out of your door and wander down your street or road on foot, you're not such a great believer in capitalism, are you?


Posted by Attila Girl at April 4, 2007 01:49 AM | TrackBack

O my libertarian friends: aren't there real estate developers against whom you harbor some ill-will?

Ummm...no. I can always obtain a big spread and put my domicile in the middle, where I don't have to see anything other than trees. Problem solved. QED

Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie at April 4, 2007 06:33 AM

Building codes, the ones that specify materials, design, and detail for the electrical, plumbing, space conditioning, and other systems are a good idea. As long as they're made for technical reasons, not to give union workers a job, or to prevent do-it-yourselfers from trying. Those related to appearance or aesthetics are starting to cross the line. I don't think people should have to beg a committee to paint their house a certain color, or choose a type of window--within reason. But reason and human beings are sometimes different animals. Views are other considerations are for the homeowners and their neighbors to work out. A reasonable, prudent person understands that things can change unless you own all of the adjacent and adjoining property.

As for seeing others do better than me, I say "great!" As a loner, I don't appreciate company, even in misery. McMansions raise everyone's property values nearby over time. And maybe a rich friend and political beneficiary will buy my house to demolish it and improve the view of the owners of said McMansion. Barack Obama's pal, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, bought the vacant lot next to B.O's intended purchase for higher-than-normal value clearing the way for B.O. to offer some $300k less than asking price(from the same seller). An abutting private preserve that adds to the ambiance of your McMansion is always a "good thing"--or so Martha keeps telling me.

Posted by: Darrell at April 4, 2007 09:39 AM

Yes, of course.

But what if you lived in a part of the country in which vacant lots went for $500K? What if you'd struggled all your life to get into a particular town/neighborhood, and then someone built something that fundamentally changed its character?--wouldn't that constitute a type of theft?

What if you lived in a housing market so blazing hot that getting a higher price for your your newly valuable home didn't really enable you to get something comparable to what you'd been living in before the neighborhood changed its character?

Posted by: Attila Girl at April 4, 2007 02:18 PM

Change is inevitable. I know that I don't control all the factors with the resources at my disposal. So I would take the money and go somewhere else where that money would buy the lifestyle that I've become accustomed to and more. Next time every thing I want to see will be on my land. So many things are outside of my control that I consider that my steady-state condition.

People in big cities are used to neighborhoods changing beyond their control. You are faced with two choices--sell now at depressed values or stay and hope/work for the best. Turnarounds sometimes take decades or more. Isn't this a form of theft? I've had relatives that chose both options, and they all wound up losing. Some had years taken from their lives by weekly robberies/beatings. The police told them they were crazy to live in the house they built forty years before. They also told them that catching the thieves would be their death sentence. All in all, these people would have preferred the McMansion dilemma.

Posted by: Darrell at April 4, 2007 08:12 PM

Building codes and zoning restrictions are two different things. Both are generally more restrictive than I care for, although it is not the codes but the onerous process one has to go through to get the simplest things approved through official channels.

As for zoning requirements I see the sense in keeping industrial areas separate from residential areas and having some buffers between residential and commercial, but when you read most zoning regulations there's inevitably *way* more restrictions than I am comfortable with.

And HOA's are way out. Never, ever will I purchase a home in an area with an active HOA.

Come on: admit it. When you walk out of your door and wander down your street or road on foot, you're not such a great believer in capitalism, are you?

Sorry to disappoint you. And I live in a very mixed use neighborhood to boot. I get *far* more bent about loud music from my neighbors than I'd ever get from a non-compliant shed or porch add-on. Because that, to me, is an actual infringement on my right to peaceable enjoyment of my property.

What if you'd struggled all your life to get into a particular town/neighborhood, and then someone built something that fundamentally changed its character?--wouldn't that constitute a type of theft?

No. Because I don't own the "character" of a place. I only own what I own. And there is always the option of moving from a blazing hot real estate market to one less blazing hot to get what one is after.

Posted by: Desert Cat at April 4, 2007 08:48 PM

Cool. So far, no one's taking the bait.

(BTW, this doesn't happen to be about me: this is about the story I'm writing--the Phoenix mystery. Although I admit that I feel wistful about what happened to both Malibu and Santa Monica, which used to be earthy beach towns. That comes across in my Santa Monica mystery, of course.

But in the Phonix mystery--at least, the way I have it outlined now--real estate development is central to the crime.)

Posted by: Attila Girl at April 4, 2007 09:37 PM

To Desert Cat
Keep in mind that Zoning Restrictions in this discussion would only apply to areas where there are such things. Houston, TX does not have Zoning. Instead, how land is used is part of land deeds.

To the other assembled:
This blog-cussion reminds of commentaries in a religious tradition known to us all. It was speculated whether a property owner who by ill will (e.g., revenge or greed) hinders another, such as by landlocking, could be stopped using legal remedies in a religious context. The resolve was that on earth, there were no such remedy and such a property owner could act "that way"; however, when that owner goes to the next world, there will be a warrant out for him.
To you die hard Randians, [are you reading this Andrew B or Harry B? (2 writers of the Rand Institute)], when do courtesy and/or cariing for your neighbor; enter your philosophy? Or are those ideas always to be couched within a healty self-interest outlook?
Just inquiring.

Posted by: Richard_Manitoba at April 4, 2007 10:25 PM

The Quakers, or the Amish?

Posted by: Attila Girl at April 5, 2007 05:11 AM

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