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.