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"Mr. Romney, tear down this house!"
The rich are weird different.
Romney to quadruple La Jolla home size

LA JOLLA — GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, scheduled to attend a series of fundraisers this weekend in San Diego, is also working on plans to nearly quadruple the size of his $12 million oceanfront manse in La Jolla.

Romney has filed an application with the city to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot, single-story home at 311 Dunemere Dr. and replace it with a two-story, 11,062-square-foot structure.

I was going to bulldoze one of my $12 million oceanfront manses, too, but I've recently kicked that habit.

But Romney, who is not weird, has good reason to totally demolish one of his multimillion dollar homes. At least this particular one:

A Romney campaign official confirmed the report, saying the Romneys want to “enlarge their two-bedroom home because with five married sons and 16 grandchildren it is inadequate for their needs. Construction will not begin until the permits have been obtained and the campaign is finished.”

This is indeed a conundrum. So confusing, in fact, that the Romneys and their representatives are unable to keep count of how many bedrooms the home has from minute to minute. At last report, they were lost somewhere between the numbers "two" and "three," as the same linked article notes:

The Romneys purchased the single-story residence at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac three years ago, according to the Union-Tribune. The Spanish-style home, facing a white sand beach, has three bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms and was constructed in 1936.

In the confusion over whether this particular house has two bedrooms or three, the Romneys apparently also became confused about the sheer volume of married sons and grandchildren they had, which accounts for their sudden and somewhat-too-late realization that the home they purchased three years ago was inadequate to their needs. I'm unable to discern from published accounts just how many of those five married sons and 16 grandchildren materialized only during the past three years since the purchase, though one imagines the number must be substantial. And surprising!

Also unknown is whether any of the previous vacation homes were similarly inadequate:

Romney and his wife, Ann, sold for $3.5 million the 6,500-square-foot colonial home in Belmont, Mass., where they raised their sons. They also sold a 9,500-square-foot home at the Deer Valley ski resort near Park City, Utah, for close to its $5.25 million asking price, according to a 2010 Associated Press report.

The couple still maintain a vacation home along Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, as well as a townhouse outside Boston that they consider their primary residence.

Now "teardowns," as it's called when rich people intentionally buy houses that are "inadequate to their needs" and then bulldoze them, are actually quite common. Among the sort who buy and then demolish homes they don't like, that is. And to be honest, he probably would have caught considerably less heat for a headline reading, "Romney to build large new vacation home." It would have been an affront to everyone suffering under the "shared sacrifice" required in a down economy, but it doesn't have quite the same ring as "quadrupling the size." Score one for the headline writers, I guess.

Of course, should you or I discover a sudden need for quadruple the space, the headline could only read, "Area resident buys new house." Because that's how normal people get houses four times the size of the one they own.

That's really what it's all about, isn't it? Normal people have one shot at it, so they shop around and try to buy the best combination of space, location and affordability they can find. Romney types, I guess, declare where they think a castle might look nice, order its construction, and after the fact might perhaps ask the builder what that lump in the landscape is. "A house, you say? Really! Well, let us be rid of it!"

Romney isn't completely insensitive to the native environment, however:

Tentative plans call for new retaining walls and a relocated driveway, but would retain the existing lap pool and spa.

Whew! That's a relief! Though to be honest, I haven't the foggiest idea how he thinks that existing spa could possibly be adequate to the needs of five married sons and several grandchildren. Perhaps it's just a tip of the (silk top) hat to the New Austerity.

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