An SF Chronicle article tells of the Twitter co-founder's plans to tear down his house and rebuild. Evan Williams and his wife bought it a year and a half ago for 2.9 million dollars. They've decided they don't like the house and they want to tear it down and build a green house.
The house looks nice. Not quite my style and I would not have bought it. It was the Williams' style but they decided it's not their style. So they changed their mind.
The neighborhood is against this house being torn down. The neighbors like the house. It was built in the early 1900s, designed by a prominent architect. It's part of the neighborhood and gives it some of its air. We can all understand that. It's a typical battle in California. Many places stipulate that houses can't be torn down or changed architecturally because they're trying to preserve an era. Others stipulate setbacks, paint colors and styles, about where you can and cannot park cars and recreational vehicles, the height, style and manner of your fence, and the general condition of your lawn and landscape.
We're less regulated about all of these things up here in Oregon. My neighbors on either side periodically apologize that their house and yard doesn't look nicer because mine looks so nice, painful to hear because I don't need their apologies, there is nothing to apologize about. As far as I'm concerned, their differences add character. I enter so many neighborhoods around the country where everything is pretty and uniform. It strikes me as sterile and bland. Please, give me the neighbors' messes over sterile uniformity.
Part of the neighbors' argument is that approval might lead to others requesting approval to tear down their homes and rebuild. I can understand that position, too. Are their fears well-grounded? I don't know. It seems like more than anything they fear change in this instance. What if the change goes bad? So sorry...were I voting on the matter, I would say, It's the Williams' land and house. There is no law that says they can't change it, and no pre-existing contracts or stipulations that prevent them from doing so.
My other side says, shame on you, Williams. Tearing down a fine house. You're going green but how much energy is being used to tear down the existing structure to build a new one? I smell hypocrisy.
In the end, it's their land. They look the view and the location, and the neighborhood. It may sound hypocritical, yet if they do manage to build a green house that ends up reducing their carbon footprint, good for them.
And there is a lot of other matters I don't know that aren't really addressed in the article and that I was too lazy to Google. Maybe the Williams plan a home in a similar style to maintain the neighborhood's ambiance. And the home may be hugely innovate in green, energy saving applications.
I suspect the neighbors also resent the idea that this man with money is above the rest of them. He has the money so he can do what he wants. A friend lives down in California where the Romneys have bought and are remodelling. I'm being kind in my choice of words. She's not as kind. She points out that the Romneys don't really fit the neighborhood, which has gays and pot smokers in it. The Romneys are asking some neighbors if it would be okay if their changes block the neighbors' ocean views. There's irritation about pathways being disrupted.
But while she says all of that, I point out that I've read that others are welcoming the Romneys. They like the idea of someone with taste and money living in their neighborhood. I'm not sure I agree with that premise but the Romneys are not claiming they're doing this to make their home green. The 3,000 square feet just isn't enough. 12,000 square feet better suits their needs. And they need an elevator for their cars.
It's always a quest for balance, isn't it? What's best for you and your family, what's best for your, neighbors, neighborhood and community, how much you can promote your preferences and choices, and what's best for the world. Balance is hard to find and harder to maintain.
Take it from one who is often unbalanced.
And here is the home:
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com