Thursday, April 06, 2006

This Old House

When it comes to your place of residence, a person's home is their castle -- unless enough people object to having Windsor next door.

Across the United States, driven by dollars and demographic shifts, more older and historic houses are being knocked down for the land on which they sit -- and replaced with newer, larger houses. Faced with this onsluaght, municipalities are fighting back.

I am of two minds on this matter.

On the first, it bothers me on several levels to put restrictions on land use. Your Taj Mahal replica design, as long as it doesn't create a physical hazard, is very difficult for me to justify as a reason for denying you the freedom to spend your money on your property as you please.

On the second, though, as someone who lives in the last remaining Victorian on a block otherwise crowded with dull row houses and marred by a cinderblock monstrosity next door, I am reminded every morning as I walk down it that freedom sometimes comes with a rather high price for others.

Perhaps the solution is not to restrict the construction of new homes, but to provide incentives to restore the old, be it preferential approvals, tax abatement, or others. Properly used, this could be a powerful tool for cities to better attract the money and development they need while retaining the character and aesthetics that make them popular.

Either that, or someone needs to figure out how to bottle and distribute taste.

No comments: