Downsizing Supersized Homes

Officials in Arlington County, Virginia, will take up a hot-button topic next month: whether or not to limit the size of new houses in the ...
by | October 27, 2005

Arlington Officials in Arlington County, Virginia, will take up a hot-button topic next month: whether or not to limit the size of new houses in the area. After years of studying the issue, the county board will debate putting restrictions on the percentage of a housing lot that can be filled by a home.

If it passes a measure, that could spell the end--or at least the scaling back--of McMansions in the D.C. suburb. Advocates of a restriction face not only local opposition--the county's neighborhood associations oppose the idea--but also a national history of inertia regarding size limits on housing.

Restrictions have passed in a handful of northern New Jersey suburbs and a few neighborhoods in New York City and Connecticut. But so far, efforts to cap the size of new homes haven't gotten much traction. 

There's some suggestion that McMansions (a.k.a. "starter castles" or "garage Mahals") are falling out of fashion, and that market forces will obviate the need for size restrictions. But supporters of limits in Arlington aren't betting on it.

Zach Patton | Executive Editor | zpatton@governing.com