Famed New York realtor Barbara Corcoran chimed in on a matter of public aesthetics and the nature of our city by advising that homeowners would be best served by tearing up their lawns and gardens and paving them over as a suitable place to park their cars. We'll let her speak directly on the subject, as it seems too insane to try to rephrase ourselves. From Friday's Daily News:
Q. My wife and I have lived in Queens for the past 10 years and we plan on staying in the area for about another five. We are noticing lately that all of our neighbors are paving their yards and then use the space to park their cars on.
My wife has spent many hours cultivating her plants and would like to keep the garden, but I think having a driveway will help us increase the price of the house when it comes time to sell. What do you think?
A. Hey, a flower garden might look pretty and keep your wife happy, but the space in front of your house is worth a hell of a lot more as a driveway.
You should know that the city council of Queens has just proposed a zoning change that would prohibit residents from paving their yards in some areas.
So get your wife on your side and get a cement truck over there fast.
We certainly hope the family in question doesn't heed Corcoran's advice too quickly, as we think that even a postage-stamp lawn adds a little something to New York's civic atmosphere. Corcoran's opinion, however, is only the latest in a municipal contretemps that's become known as the Paving Wars. The New York Times examined the phenomena back in September.
By many accounts, the Paving Wars began in the 1980s, after a rise in car break-ins led property owners to seek parking closer to home. But the practice of paving yards has accelerated as developers tear down old houses, and new landlords seek to skirt the costs of maintaining lawns. The concrete yards are most common in auto-centric neighborhoods with limited street parking, like Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and Bayside, Queens.
In October, City Councilman James Vacca representing the Bronx proposed legislation that would counter the practice of paving and try to preserve what remains of the city's domestic greenscapes. One of our favorite urban chroniclers, Kevin Walsh of Forgotten NY, described the above examples of paved lawns as a "monstrosity" and "excrescence," respectively. He also replied to Corcoran personally and described her advice as "asinine." We'd have to agree. Part of Mayor Bloomberg's PlanNYC is to make New York City a greener place, in part by planting up to a million trees.
(Photos by Kevin Walsh, from Forgotten NY)