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Bigger Isn't Better to One Observer

May 29, 1988

What a switch! Neighborhood homeowner groups used to demand of their city councils and city planners that their neighborhood property values be sustained by their city by requiring minimum sizes of new homes built in their areas. They wanted houses at least 1,200 to 1,500 square feet, or at least the size of the average house in their neighborhood.

My heart reaches out to the poor neighbors in Beverly Hills whose 3,500- to 5,000-square-foot-sized home values are being threatened by still larger homes of 7,500 to 10,000 square feet or more. These frustrated, threatened residents want a reverse restriction from the city limiting the size of these mansion "monstrosities." The two 26,000-square-foot houses shown in the photograph above Beverly Drive in the mountains do indeed appear to be hotels rather than homes. You wonder what they are going to do rattling around in those huge houses.

This conflict between the rich and the ultra-extravagant rich makes me wonder about the injustices of American democracy and economics. Thousands of hard-working families in Los Angeles can only afford minimal housing. Thousands of others can't afford any housing. The Reagan Administration has practically wiped out all low-income housing construction and subsidies. Since you really wonder why anyone needs such a huge house, when Beverly Hills limits the size, they could require their affluent residents to give the difference in cost to their city for building housing for low-income citizens who can't afford any housing at all. Of course, Beverly Hills might have to tear down some of their affluent housing, since they have practically run out of vacant land.

CALVIN S. HAMILTON

Los Angeles

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