Why Not More Zoning?

DSC_0109 Out here in Jersey, people love to announce their wealth by the creative usage of Greek columns on their homes. Also marble fountains, circular driveways, and statues of David. Preferably that's all happening at the same time on one home.  That's how we roll out here. These are MY people. 

So, it was a bit jarring to pull onto Cape Cod and see nothing but tasteful shingles, short homes, and gardens. Where are the cathedral ceilings, man? 

Either there are no Italians on the Cape or they have really good zoning laws. 

I'm going with the good zoning laws. So, why don't more towns have these strict zoning laws that mandate that an area should have a uniform look? Wouldn't that increase the property values of a town? 

19 thoughts on “Why Not More Zoning?

  1. “So, why don’t more towns have these strict zoning laws that mandate that an area should have a uniform look?”
    You’re assuming that the yuppies will win, taste-wise. What if the other side wins and mandates peeing cupids, lawn flamingos and lawn deer, cutouts of bending over gardeners, bathtub Madonnas and garden gnomes? (A phenomenon that I’ve seen probably twice in our city in Texas is a colored statue of a saint in a glass (or plexiglass) box, usually set into a stone wall. The ones that I’ve seen look freshly-installed.)
    While I understand the appeal of uniformity of style, that’s the same principal that leads to banning clotheslines and front yard vegetable gardens and American flags. There needs to be both room for uniformity and whimsy–perhaps in different neighborhoods. (One of the grander homes in our town has a big gorilla on the front yard that they re-paint according to the holiday.)

  2. In our neighborhood, you have to go before a zoning board if you change ANYTHING: windows, a deck, a fence, or even a new door. They have to approve everything – color/style/etc.
    While I do appreciate the well-kept homes, a giant gorilla in someone’s front yard would be a breath of fresh air.

  3. Don’t worry, although most Massachusetts towns have an idyllic town center with perfect cape and colonial homes, Greek columns and lawn gnomes abound in many communities outside of Cape Cod. I do find it pleasing to my immigrant eye when the homes in a neighborhood are all tastefully painted and decorated, but the rebellious side of me finds zoning laws as a limit on expression. I may not personally love the giant, year round Santa in the yard of one house that comes to mind, but if it makes the owners happy, who am I to complain?
    In my town only homes in the historic district have to follow rules on the exterior appearance of their home. Most of the zoning laws focus on minimum lot size requirements and signage rules. We basically have 1 acre zoning. A nearby super-wealthy community has 2 acre zoning. This makes affordable housing nearly impossible. That is why Massachusetts has laws allowing contractors to bypass zoning laws if they include affordable units in their proposal.

  4. That kind of thing is a good argument for fewer zoning laws. If you have to apply for an exception to do nearly anything affordable, then you’ve basically created a new over-class of municipal assholes to placate.

  5. If I ever take up local quality of life stuff, I’m going to start by pestering the city to cite university area landlords who have perpetual mounds of trash in front of their buildings. They don’t provide cans and the students don’t buy trash bags, so every week the kids just make a pile of crap on the curb and the sanitation guys grab what they are able to hold but leave the rest.

  6. I like having both — zoned areas and non-zoned one’s. I’d prefer that they actually be laws rather than homeowner’s associations, because homeowner’s associations go farther than I’d like (and, in the past, of course, have been used for straight forward racist discrimination).
    The Cape must have zoning laws — I’ve never seen a place look consistently good without them. Sedona, AZ is beautiful that way.
    Now, the mounds of trash — that sounds awful. I think you should put on your old man hat and start bugging the government now. Probably doesn’t require lots of involvement to start the project.

  7. As far as the trash goes, plenty of better-connected people have tried. However, it is possible that I’m better at making a pest of myself than they are.

  8. “cities have been perfectly capable fo using straight forward racist discrimination.”
    But it’s illegal, say as opposed to membership in a private club.

  9. Out here in Jersey, people love to announce their wealth by the creative usage of Greek columns on their homes. Also marble fountains, circular driveways, and statues of David. Preferably that’s all happening at the same time on one home. That’s how we roll out here.
    Ah, so that’s where LA County residential architecture comes from.

  10. “Ah, so that’s where LA County residential architecture comes from.”
    Don’t Armenians have a reputation for liking flashy homes? They could be the West Coast’s Italians in certain respects.

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