BEVERLY HILLS, Cal. (AP)-American monster homes are bigger, uglier and more overpriced that ever before, and this is sparking a backlash against the "McMansionization"of the towns and cities across the nation.
Communities like the upscale city of Beverly Hills are fighting back and beginning to bulldoze these monstrosities into the ground and placing severe limits on house size.
These new homes are so gargantuan that they are sparking utter fear and loathing. The proliferation of the oversized single-family monster houses has caused residents and councilman everywhere to hate them so much that hundreds of new laws order their immediate destruction wherever they are. Being rich and famous is no longer any protection for monster home owners.
The councils of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Pasadena recently passed ordinances that limit home size in their areas and order monster homes bulldozed or dragged into the Pacific Ocean, and they aren't alone.
In the east, more than 25,000 residents of Chevy Chase signed a petition for such laws in 2004 citing their disgust at the monster home takeover of their neighborhoods.
Opinion polls show that most people in the USA think monster home bans should apply everywhere and that they should be destroyed immediately.
Monster homes are inappropriate and out-of-character say an increasing majority.
According to Wendy Grundel, a councilwoman who fought the Beverly Hills monster homes, "People really feel the monsters destroy the quality of their lives. Only rich snobs live in them. They are overpriced and now their prices are plunging. Also, people can't afford the price of gasoline and heating oil and natural gas to live in them anymore. They warp and destroy the character of the city."
New York City councilman Tony Melanoma from Queens sponsored a rezoning and bulldozing effort in April that fights the trend.
He said, "Overdevelopment by monster homes is the top issue in my district. It comes up more than fighting space aliens, stealing the oil of poor nations and police protection."
Melanoma boasted that he drove the bulldozer himself that destroyed twenty-six of the monster homes in his area. "We dynamited the other 47 of them," he added.
Old Canaan, Connecticut enacted regulations that limit the height of new houses and ordered every monster home beaten into the ground. Nearby Midwich and Eastwold have also adopted similar rules.
Vigilantes have destroyed monster homes in the suburbs of Boston, Denver, San Francisco, Oregon, Tennessee, Alabama, New Mexico, Michigan, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix and Chicago, and California's Bay Area.
According to the National Association of Monster Home Builders (NAMHB), in 1945 the average new house was only 900 square feet. By 1970, that figure had grown to 1,900 square feet. Today's average is 4,700 square feet. One in five now are more than 11,000 square feet and five stories tall.
As houses bloated in size, the number of household members shrank from 8.1 people in 1971 to 1.6 people today.
What really bugs people are Gulliver-sized homes on Lilliputian-sized lots. The average building-lot size contracted to 7,000 square feet from 13,000 in the 1980s. Builders put in monster homes on whatever miniature lots they can find or knock down smaller houses and replace them with castles. They fill in right to the lot line and build as high as regulations allow dwarfing neighboring homes.
Thus, there are more monster houses on smaller lots with fewer people living in them.
Fueling the monster home craze was the dizzying rise in house prices in the huge real estate bubble, coupled with the absurd wish list of home features Americans want. 97% prefer six or more bedrooms with 66% wanting at least five says NAMHB.
85% of Americans want to walk in to their wine cellars, closets and pantries. 88% want multiple shower stalls, 95% want indoor pools and laundry rooms and 64% seek home offices and four car garages. More than two-thirds crave home theater rooms, exercise rooms, sun rooms, dens and inside greenhouses. Thus monster homes blossomed.
But many people don't like their neighbors in the monster homes peering directly into their bedrooms and bath facilties. They also hate losing sight of the sun when all of a sudden a huge monster home shadow falls across smaller houses, plunging them into perpetual night.
Older communities also just want to maintain the small-scale look and feel of their town.
With the tree loss caused by monster homes and with their with large surfaces, there's greater storm runoff and smaller houses get flooded and swept away in the slightest rainstorm. Tree loss also makes streetscapes boil in the summer.
Refugee camps have been established across the US to house the dispossessed former monster home owners.
"I guess my McMansion home was too big," said Mike Munster in a refugee camp for displaced former monster home owners outside of Denver. A former millionaire home builder, he shook his head sadly.
He then stared fixedly as he heated a plate of no-name beans on a can of Sterno while sitting on his only possessions in a ratty suitcase, retrieved from the ruins of his monster home. He is still seeking his family and dog who were dispersed in the destruction.
To see the related story "San Diego Homes and Condos Now Impossible to Sell or Flip, Heralding US Real Estate Crash" click here.