As if the housing business wasn't already looking a little sketchy, homebuilders might have to deal with the mighty arm of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Founded in the early 1990's, the ELF uses arson and sabotage, which it collectively calls "monkeywrenching," to strike out against people, companies, and groups that it feels are exploiting the Earth. In the past, their targets have included logging companies, fast food restaurants, car dealerships, and companies that deal in genetic engineering.
On March 3, ELF's monkeywrenching took the form of arson; they set fire to three luxury homes in Snohomish County, Washington. The houses, in the "Street of Dreams" development, were between 4,200 and 4,750 square feet in size, and were priced at roughly $2 million apiece. Overall, the arson was estimated to have caused over $7 million in damage.
"Street of Dreams'" builders have claimed that the houses were "green," citing the use of formaldehyde-free materials and energy-efficient appliances. However, local protesters had argued that the homes' septic systems were a danger to nearby wetlands. Furthermore, the considerable size of the houses, nearly double the average home size in the United States, makes the "green" claim questionable.
Between the sagging housing market, mortgage miseries, and the development of Suburban slums, the luxury housing business was already looking a little grim. Throw in the ELF, and it sounds like a bad time to be a home builder!
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He grew up in a "McMansion" neighborhood and is happy to have escaped.