by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
This excursion shall begin in England, with the most egregious example of nonconforming land uses witnessed by me. It’s no wonder I survived to tell about it, as I have no scars to prove I actually saw it. In the lovely town of Devizes is a white castle that looks like it came out of a fairy tale. It served many years as a bed and breakfast. Promos showed a rolling lawn leading to its door. In reality, one found a red-brick factory next-door with practically zero setback.
The Brits didn’t mind. What bothered them was that the castle owners had sold the same castle to multiple buyers. That was fraud, and the Bed & Breakfast Association kicked said owners out. I trust it is under better ownership by now.
Back in America, we worry about sidewalks and greenways, and try to make up rules to discriminate against certain ilk without violating fair housing codes. On the subject of sidewalks, one of my favorites is in Martinez, CA. Zoning codes supposedly require sidewalks on one side of the street, so there is this street where the sidewalk runs for two houses on this side and two houses on that. Oh, it makes a great rule if the objective in rules is the creation of obedient subjects; but in the real world, it forces school children into the middle of the road all over the place.
Another work of art is in Davenport, FL. In a sizeable subdivision, large manufactured homes sit about ten feet away from each other with windows looking into each others’ windows. Like most places these days, people are using their garages for storage and parking their cars in the drive. They weren’t supposed to do this, though; the driveways are too short, and so cars are hanging out on the sidewalk everywhere. Once again, peds have to go in the street and out of the street and in the street and out of the street.
Is better planning the answer? No, because technology will change along with preferences, and those pesky little humans will do what makes sense to them before they conform to self-proclaimed visionaries’ half-baked ideas.