Friday, July 20, 2007

This Just In

Making McMansion Owners Pay
July 12, 2007 | Time Magazine

As bloated homes and McMansions continue to sprout up across the country, Boulder, Colorado, may have come up with a lucrative approach to contain what detractors call the plague of Garage Mahals and Big-Hair Houses. At a July 10 meeting, where more than 70 citizens spoke, Boulder county commissioners preliminarily approved a system of development rights transfers that would extract mega-bucks from builders of mega-homes. ...

Intriguing idea. So far it looks like the toll for such a Venti house in an unlikely location is paid by the neighbors who lose their views and sunlight, the ground which is covered with impervious surfaces, the streetscape which is now devoid of trees and lawns, the geographic areas which lose their heritage and connections, the neighborhoods who lose their diversity and livability, residents whose property taxes rise commensurately with the "improvements" in their comparable tax zone, and everyone who will pay higher prices for energy and water uses that are affected by the resources larger houses use.

What is unique about the proposal in Colorado is that it offers positive economic incentives for NOT living large, and makes large houses pay for their cost to the surrounding communities by purchasing size "credits" for their homes.

It's a start. So far, those who can afford million dollar homes have been able to shift the burden of exercising their property rights onto their neighbors. Finding a way to reward, rather than punish, the neighbors is intriguing indeed.

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