Minding your own business in St. Paul – The hysteria over someone else’s choices

There is evil lurking in St. Paul and the Teardown Shamers of Facebook have their long knives out, ready to pounce on it, as soon as it rears its head.

And, if its ugly head has already reared, they are committed to countless hours of posting pictures, multiple and repeated social media posts and obsessive demands to stop the monster from spawning elsewhere in our city.

The evil I write of is the upsurge in the number of teardowns of existing homes in St. Paul which are often replaced by new, larger and more expensive homes.

That the homes being sold belong to the people that sell them is lost on the Teardown Shamers of Facebook.

So, too, is the fact that the people selling the homes are entitled to make the choice to sell their home to anyone who might – God Forbid – offer them more money than they wanted and/or more than the other guy who wanted to offer them less money.

In other words, an owner of a home in St. Paul decides to sell their home. They offer it at a price. Someone offers to meet or exceed that price. That owner decides to sell that home to that person.

The house is sold.

Now, the person who bought the home has the same rights that the previous owner of the home possessed. He or she can do about anything they would like with the home, as long as they observe local building codes, zoning laws, etc, etc.

My house may or may not be for sale. If it is, and someone offers me a lot of money, I would sell it tomorrow.

If the person – or company – buying my house decided to renovate it, mow the lawn, and otherwise improve and enhance my former home I applaud them for that choice.

If they choose to tear it down and start all over again – I would be sad to see the house that my children were brought home to no longer exist – but that’s their choice and their right.

In other words, it’s none of my business – and sure the heck is none of anyone else’s business.

Unless, of course, you are a Teardown Shamer of Facebook.

The Teardown Shamers of Facebook have determined to find any house in St. Paul that is for sale and put it on a Facebook page and tell us how lovely the house is – how charming it is – and why it must be preserved at any cost.

This preemptive action is intended to somehow or another stop a homeowner from selling his or her home to a developer who may or may not choose to demolish the home and build another one – likely bigger – more expensive – and in their eyes, a crime against humanity.

Some have even suggested that in the event a developer is issued a permit to demolish the home the City staff that approved the permit should have their names posted publicly for all to see.

Let me be clear. My complaint about the process of teardowns in St. Paul has nothing to do with the business transaction between the owner and the buyer of a home. Nor does it have anything to do with the decision the new owner of the home makes with regard to the home’s existence.

My complaint has, and remains, the need for the City to enforce existing ordinances with respect to how long it takes for a project to be completed – the condition of the worksite – the work hours that the builder is doing the work – and the conduct of the workers on the site.

If the City focuses on enforcing those laws more aggressively then I think much of the angst of many in the neighborhood diminishes significantly.

Frankly, St. Paul is a City where our housing stock is decaying, becoming less attractive for resale and is no longer competitive in the marketplace throughout the Twin Cities marketplace.

If the City really wants to address the teardown housing “crisis” in St. Paul they should avoid the demands of the Teardown Shamers of Facebook and begin with a comprehensive analysis and audit of the city’s current housing stock.

Let’s get a handle on what the city has – and doesn’t have – in terms of its housing stock. Let’s learn what the marketplace wants now – and in the future – with the respect to the type of housing our City has currently available.

There’s a reason people are buying homes and tearing them down in St. Paul and building new ones in their place – and it has nothing to do with some evil intent to destroy the character of our City.

It has to do with the marketplace. People want what people want. If they want a small, charming bungalow then that is what they will buy – and keep.

If they don’t, they will either buy a house somewhere else in another city – or they will buy the one down the street and tear it down and build a new one.

Enforcing our current city ordinances is a proper response to the growth of this practice – not a moratorium on teardowns.

And, certainly not the hysteria that the Teardown Shamers of Facebook have exhibited in recent weeks and months.

This perspective is lost on the people who have taken to driving past people’s homes – taking pictures of their homes – and posting them on Facebook for all the world to see.

And, for those who wish to shame those owners into refusing to sell to a developer if that developer is prepared to demolish the home.

Something tells me that for any number of those people if someone came to their door and offered them a wheelbarrow full of money for their home the moral umbrage they have thrown at others in the community would stop as soon as the money was deposited in their bank account.

Bring me a wheelbarrow of money. My home is yours. What you do with it is your business.

And certainly none of the business of the Teardown Shamers of Facebook.

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