Exactly: "the latest trend".
In a long list, over a long period of time, of other trends.
Firstly, you *never* "really own" your property. If you doubt that, just
refuse to pay your property taxes. Or try to do something without the
permission of your local neighborhood committee or whatever they call it
where you are. Or try to put up an addition without a city permit. Unless
you live out in the middle of a wilderness somewhere (good luck finding
one), the plain fact is that holding the deed to a property does not mean
you can do whatever you want to it or with it. In a sense, you actually
"rent" that property because you are subject to any number of fees and
bylaws and neighborhood committees and etc. and so on and so forth.
Secondly, the problem isn't only huge houses - it is paving in general.
Paved land cannot absorb rainfall. This harms watersheds (and the supply
of drinking water), but also, it contributes to flash floods. This is a
big problem in areas where long, hot, very dry summers bake the soil to the
point where its capacity to absorb water is already comprimised. As houses
and their associated paving takes more and more land, this problem is
OTOH, mass housing (condos/apartments, towhnouses) are still seen as being
less desireable than a separate house, even if the actual property is so
small that there are only 6" between your walls and those of your neighbor,
and can't plant anything larger than a small shrub. I personally think
that this, in turn, is one reason why so many townhouses have noting but
regualr walls (sheetrock nailed to either side of a framed wall) between
one unit and another, which in turn makes the experience somewhat like
living inside of a drum set. I've lived in townhouses where I could
literally, while in bed, hear the neighbor on one side pee, and the
neighbor on the other side snore.
I also worried constantly about fire. The whole complex would burn like
one large house.
If the complex has no driveways or garages for each unit, you're stuck with
common parking lots and end up with paint scraped off the roof and hood and
trunk (because the dumbass neighbors plop their groceries and various other
purchases there, so that they don't scratch up their own car) and all sorts
of dents, dings, broken lights, and other sundry damage.
And there are always people tromping around right in front of your unit,
kids leaving their toys on your sidewalk, and just about every other form
of total lack of consideration. Can't plant anything because either the
kids, or the groundskeepers, tear it up. Then thre is the question of
things like community pools - where you get to swim in the accumulated pee,
snot, spit, and other non-sterile exudates, of bunches of other poeple of
unknown sanitary habits.
Concentrated housing would allow a given amount of land to have maximum
open space, as opposed to the typical subdivision. But mass housing is
seldom built to be pleasant, never mind quiet.
If allowing people to pave over 80% of their property causes flooding,
which in turn causes damage to other property elsewhere, then the only
recourse is to add another restriction or covenant to the many that already
exist, which limits a house's footprint, and it's associated paving, to a
certain percentage of the lot.
And really, an 8000 sq ft lot is just not all that big to begin with. It's
really easy to fill it up quickly.
If the space in every yard is maxed out with building and paving, you end
up with an area (so-called "neighborhood") that has all the disadvantages
of row housing and none-to-few of the advantages.
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