Thursday, February 10, 2011

Land of the Free

So, for those who haven't heard yet...I'm moving! To Merced! (Should I be secretive about that? Living in San Francisco doesn't really seem like something you need to hide on the internet. You and a million other people! Merced is smaller, but really, ultimately, not that small. I guess the issue is that there's a decent chance that there are only so many Kerrys in Merced, so this makes me more google-able, and maybe more people in my day to day life that I wouldn't normally share my politics (or um, slightly PG-13 comics) with might find their way here. But apparently I'm throwing caution to the wind.)

And conveniently, Merced...or rather nearby Atwater, already has political issues that I care about.* Basically, Merced's housing market has been hit hard by the recession. As a result, people are having to adjust their expectations regarding the real estate investments they have made. Or, in the case of this man...seeking government intervention that will let them avoid having to adjust their expectations. He bought a house in what he thought was going to be a community of 4000 square foot McMansions, but now the market does not seem to be supporting the construction of more 4000 square foot McMansions, and so developers want to build smaller and presumably cheaper houses and he wants to stop them. I'm trying to decide if my complete lack of sympathy for people who like huge houses and neighborhood associations is making me less objective here. I would probably think it was a different issue if someone in a neighborhood with small houses on big lots wanted to build a 4000 square foot house that would come within a foot of the property line on all sides and his neighbors were annoyed. But as ambiguous as a  person's right to say, be able to see something other than his neighbor's wall when he looks out his window seems a lot better founded to me than a person's right to demand that his neighbors be able to demonstrate some minimum level of wealth. Besides, my grudge against McMansions isn't exactly the least founded of my various prejudices. McMansions are a public blight, a primary cause of suburban sprawl (although, in fairness...sometimes no worse than small houses on big lots, which I like), and a waste of heating and cooling resources. The idea that the government should be in the business of forcing developers to build more 4000 square foot homes than there is currently demand for is pretty atrocious.

*Matt Yglesias does a lot of writing on these kinds of issues. Also, anti-big-housism has probably been one of the most consistent ideologies of my entire life.

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