Not in Your Front Yard!


Working on the editorial board of a major metropolitan newspaper for two years convinced me of one thing about libertarianism—it really, really, really needs to begin at City Hall.

Today's example of both choice-despising municipal policy and (more importantly?) a political/journalistic culture that nourishes it, comes in an L.A. Times article about a new City Hall proposal to limit house size in L.A.'s single-family-zoned areas (encompassing an estimated 234,000 houses) to square footage equal to half the size of their lots, with existing height limits of 33 feet reachable "only with a pitched roof, a requirement intended to discourage shoe box-style houses." Perhaps more telling than the proposal itself is the way it's framed in the article's opening three paragraphs:

To protect the character of neighborhoods being dwarfed by the construction of oversized homes, Los Angeles officials are weighing a law that would radically limit the square-footage of new or remodeled houses across the city's flatlands.

The proposed anti-mansionization measure would stem a trend fueled by the meteoric rise in home values and address a backlash from residents who complain that the spread of large, boxy homes is spoiling the architectural flavor of established single-family neighborhoods.

Some neighborhood activists welcome the proposal, while others complain that it doesn't go far enough.

Note the range of acceptable opinion.

This kind of politics—and journalism—happens every single day across this great nation of ours, especially in its bluest cities. For another L.A. example, check out this September article on zoning fast-food restaurants away. And for some reasony analysis of housing-size significance, start here and here.