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Big Mac attack on mansions

By PATTY RYAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2002

This week's topic: Big houses, little lots and their reputed link to hamburgers.

This week's topic: Big houses, little lots and their reputed link to hamburgers.

Q. So what's a McMansion?

A. Definitions vary. But City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena has publicly described a McMansion as a three-story house with turrets.

Q. Turrets?

A. One of the lesser known ingredients in a Big Mac.

Q. So what's wrong with McMansions?

A. The anti-McMansion people say too many big houses are going up on small lots in South Tampa, right beside ordinary McBungalows, McRanches and McMediterraneans.

Q. Which means?

A. McPeeping Toms. McZero lot line. The good news is we can all share toasters.

Q. The bad?

A. For some, it's an issue of privacy. Or scale. Others worry that South Tampa is getting devoured by huge, unaffordable homes and that pretty soon the rest of us will be living in tree houses on cell phone towers.

Q. Is there a silver lining?

A. Free long distance, unlimited weekend calling and a new city motto: "We love to see you smile."

Q. I mean, are there pro-McMansion people?

A. Absolutely. They say South Tampa land values will drop if developers don't recoup their investments by building big houses. The way the argument goes, ending the McMansion boom could erase years of real estate appreciation in South Tampa.

Q. What did that guy call it the other day?

A. "Choking the goose that lays the golden egg."

Q. Wow.

A. I know.

Q. Even Bubba would have gone to jail for that.

A. Yep.

Q. So, this Salcines woman . . .

A. Saul-Sena.

Q. What's she talking about doing?

A. Putting limits on architects and builders so that new homes don't monopolize small lots and neighborhoods.

Q. So what kind of reaction is she getting?

A. Developers are furious.

Q. Isn't there a less drastic way to infuriate developers?

A. She could shut down the Palma Ceia Golf & Country Club and set the land aside as a ballpark to keep kids off drugs.

Q. Would they stop coming door to door selling M&Ms for $5?

A. Maybe, but we would still have to buy fake magazine subscriptions and sign surveys rating their personalities.

Q. So what's to become of this McMansion debate?

A. Some people figure it will blow over. Others are bringing in a heavyweight.

Q. Lemme guess. He wears a clown nose? Initials, "R.M."?

A. You got it.

-- McMansions will be the topic of a public hearing April 16 at 7 p.m., at the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, 3910 S. Manhattan Ave.

-- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or

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