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Uniformity


They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-Benjamin Franklin


Does enforcing the uniformity of appearance in a neighborhood -- often with heavy-handed oppression -- preserve the value of the properties in that neighborhood?


As Baghdad Erupts in Riot of Color, Calls to Tone it Down

For decades, Saddam Hussein’s government ruled over aesthetics in Iraq’s capital with the same grip it exercised over its people. A committee of artists, architects and designers approved the color of buildings as well as the placement of shrubs. With many beige brick buildings, and color used sparingly — most often on mosques — the city’s appearance was uniform and restrained.


But the committee, like Mr. Hussein’s government, fell apart after the United States invasion in 2003. Some years later, when Iraqis started rebuilding as the violence declined, there was no central arbiter. Bright colors started appearing, and places like the Trade Ministry were done up in pink, orange and yellow.

source: "As Baghdad Erupts in Riot of Color, Calls to Tone It Down" New York Times. May 14, 2011.    via InstaPundit.com (May 14, 2011 at 2:40 PM) :
“When all the New York Times can complain about is the color of buildings in Baghdad, can we officially say that the war was a success? Oh the horrors of tackiness! If only we had left Saddam in power!”


Evan McKenzie, a former HOA lawyer, made the following observations about the argument that enforcing uniformity of appearance enhances property values:

This idea that many people have that sameness, that uniformity, in a community is good for property values.  Because I don't think that's true.  If you go up the economic ladder, to communities that are really worth a lot more money, where wealthier people live, at more expensive homeowner association developments, the homes are built differently.  They're not the same.  They're not the same.
. . .
If you look at the places rich people live, they never have a house the same as their neighbors. 

When did people start thinking that if you're moving up into the middle class, you want a house exactly like your neighbors?

I think it's just nonsense.  It's a way of saving money on design and construction costs.  That's all it is.  And the idea that it has to stay like this for ever is just nuts.
. . .
You can understand why developers, during the build out phase, and when they're controlling the association, you can understand for marketing reasons, why they don't want people making big changes in anything.  Because they're trying to sell these houses, and they don't want anything to look different and odd and weird.  I get that. 

But for the owners to continue to oppress each other after they take over the association is really really unfortunate and crazy.

source:  OnTheCommons.net   May 07, 2011
.  at 34 min. 45 sec.


Even for those neighborhoods where the residents wish to enforce some standards of uniform appearance, H.O.A.s are not necessary, and often counter-productive.
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