XXX was not only writing about teardowns, he was blogging and tweeting them.
Mead Road teardown in Oakhurst.
I don't have to tell you it's controversial, teardowns that is. Activists across the spectrum exploit it. You can read this today in Salon "Preserving history, or the 1 percent?"
But most of us have gut reactions to them, we don't need any expert explanations. It's a place where envy and resentment spill into design. It's where outcomes are out for all to see and may be there for a 100 years.
When it bubbles up in your own community meetings, neighborhood harmony is rarely the result. When it spills into social media, we get controversy at light speed. It's more fun when the controversies are in somebody else's neighborhood.
Agree or disagree with XXX - you might do both - he's providing a service by discussing it in public. It's not winning him universal love but so be it.
I blog teardowns too but primarily on aesthetics: I want them to be good and I don't want the process to ruin something good. I keep the rest of my opinions to myself as I am a terrible activist.
My bona fides: We renovated our house in 1989. That was after a year of planning and then humiliation before our neighborhood zoning committee and before our NPU. It was awful.
Ironically my humiliating experience got me a spot on the zoning committee and ultimately leadership in our neighborhood association. I was a bit more sympathetic to the homeowners than to the committees.
In the end Bill Harrison did our renovation when he was design/build. He avoided zoning issues altogether and made our place blend in. Doing it "right" seemed effortless to Bill. Paraphrasing him: "It takes just as much money to do it wrong as to do it right."
Here is the before/after. We didn't tear it down and we harmonized with our neighbors. Though we didn't do a McMansion, we certainly up-sized and gentrified.
Of course teardowns matter - for good or ill - in some neighborhoods more than others. But that's another blog.
If you are interested in the new urbanist take on these things, please follow my Twitter urbanist list. If you aren't on Twitter, you should be. You don't even have to Tweet got take advantage of it.
P.S. Oakhurst is home to the former Scottish Rite Hospital by Neel Reid and Hal Hentz, of the firm Hentz, Reid and Adler:
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