Monday, August 25, 2008

Top 5 Totally Uncool Things About My 'hood - #4 in a series

#2B – Plenty of Pavement

When we first moved in, the window at the top of our stairs had the best of all the views in the house. The house whose backyard abuts ours had a huge rubber tree in which lived a bounty of birds. There was also a tall palm tree. The view beyond and through the trees led to hillsides. It was pleasant.

Then one day, incited by the sound of chainsaws, I looked out the window and saw a crew of men preparing to bring down both mature trees. For months afterward, the backyard stood bare and unused. Then one day, I saw a crew of men preparing to pour cement.

This is our view today.

So, now he has parking. I sympathize with his parking predicament. But he could have had both trees and parking if he had given this plan any thought. Now, the summer heat bounces off all that cement. The rare rainfall is washed into the storm drains.

The real problem is not just about spoiling my view. The real problem is that paving over front and back yards is a common solution in my neighborhood. Sometimes it’s a solution to the parking problem. Sometimes it’s just a solution to yard maintenance.

There are property rights activists who will argue that the homeowner should have the right of total control over his own land. But not all homeowners have enough sense to know what is best for their land. Certainly not all homeowners consider what is best for their own property values or for the environment.

I wouldn’t want a city agency giving me an edict about how I use my yard; but I can’t say that I want my neighbors to be free to do whatever they please.

It’s the conundrum of living in a free society and the answer to why the phenomenon of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions was created.

Plenty of property rights. Too much pavement.


Jayne said...

That pavement is ugly, ugly, ugly. Not to mention environmentally stupid. Kansas City began a program to encourage folks to manage their yards and do plantings to keep some of the waterflow out of the over-loaded storm drains. You can read about it at I don't know how successful it's been; I live about 50 miles east of KC.

Jennifer said...

That is ugly. It's a really tough call, though... We chose where we live BECAUSE there were no rules... the man down the street with his rusted fence of bicycles, the neighbor with his half finished rock garden, the picket fenced grassy yard, etc.

However... I wouldn't want to live next to THAT. I feel for you.

Why S? said...

Yes, it's ugly alright. Fortunately, there are also some lovely homes on our block. It's truly a mixed neighborhood.

Thanks for the link, Jayne. It's a good resource. Since we are in an official drought situation, maybe city officials can raise awareness and discourage this practice.

Leslie said...

Oh that would make me so sad!! I actually once offered to buy 10-20' of my neighbor's property so that I could properly care for and never have to chance losing a beautiful giant crepe myrtle (it's taller than my house) that is just inside his yard. He declined. :(

Why S? said...

It makes me sad as well, Leslie. I've had the fantasy of buying a chunk of his backyard, as if I had the money. But his lot is so huge and mine is so small, it would really only be fair.