City Proposes Rewards For Building Smaller Homes

To curb excessive house sizes, Boulder, Colorado, is offering financial incentives to homeowners not to build out, and penalties for McMansions.

"As bloated homes and McMansions continue to sprout up across the country, Boulder, Colorado, may have come up with a lucrative approach to contain what detractors call the plague of Garage Mahals and Big-Hair Houses. At a July 10 meeting, where more than 70 citizens spoke, Boulder county commissioners preliminarily approved a system of development rights transfers that would extract mega-bucks from builders of mega-homes.

The average U.S. home size was 2,434 square feet in 2005, up from 983 square feet in 1950, according to the National Association of Home Builders. But new houses in Boulder County are now averaging 6,500 sq. ft.

Homeowners willing to sign away their option to someday add additions to their houses would receive a one-time payment as well as lower yearly tax assessments on their homes. The forfeited enlargement rights would then be available for purchase through a specially established market. Residents planning to build or expand homes larger than the recommended thresholds - 7,000 square feet on the plains, 5,000 square feet in the mountains - would be required to purchase additional development rights at prices determined by the market, which might be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per property.

Boulder may have come up with an elegant and egalitarian solution. While big houses can go up, the people who own small houses will get richer too."

Full Story: Making McMansion Owners Pay

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