On Dunemere Drive in the coastal town of La Jolla, Calif., a suburb of San Diego, "it seems as if just about everyone has a gripe against the owners of No. 311," says Michael Barbaro at The New York Times. The home's owner, one Mitt Romney, has been the source of much bellyaching since he bought the property for $12 million four years ago. The extensive renovations to his house, the pervasive presence of Secret Service agents, and his uptight attitude toward marijuana — it's all grist for the mill. Here, five takeaways from the Times' piece about Mr. Romney's Neighborhood:
1. His neighbors don't like the renovations
To make room for his five children and 18 grandchildren, Romney is quadrupling the size of the house, reports Barbaro. The Republican presidential candidate went so far as to ask neighbors to sign a document saying they would not object to new construction obstructing their ocean view. "They refused." A group of neighbors meets regularly to discuss Romney's renovation plans, which include converting a conventional two-car garage into a two-level four-car garage with an elevator to "ferry" cars up and down.
2. They also don't like his politics
Romney supports a Constitutional ban on gay marriage, and his neighbors, several of whom are gay couples, aren't pleased. One gay neighbor wants to "bump into Mr. Romney on the street, so he can explain, 'in a neighborly way,'" why Mitt Romney would deny him the same rights Mitt and Ann Romney enjoy, says Barbaro.
3. Romney cramps their pot-smoking style
Romney once allegedly demanded that a young man stop drinking a beer and smoking marijuana on the beach. Romney is also suspected of reporting pot-smokers to the local police. Romney is clearly pretty uptight, says Mike Riggs at Reason. "Can you imagine," asks Max Read at Gawker, "being high and having Mitt Romney come up and ask you to stop smoking, in that weird clearly-really-angry-but-trying-to-act-jovial way of his?"
4. The Secret Service is a nuisance
Though the Romneys have tried to blend in, they're about as inconspicuous as "a neon billboard," says Barbaro. Each time they stay in the La Jolla house, Secret Service agents swarm the neighborhood in "sudden spasms of security." The agents, while reportedly friendly, once asked Romney's neighbors to handle the former Massachusetts governor's recycling.
5. Conservatives aren't happy about the piece
Conservatives say The Times piece is part of a pattern of mainstream media outlets going out of their way to expose unflattering details about Romney's personal life. Romney's objection to marijuana is hardly newsworthy, unless he's "alienating the crucial choom gang voting bloc," says Mark Hemingway at The Weekly Standard. "While The Times is (literally) getting to the bottom of Mitt Romney's recycle bin, I wonder if they can spare a reporter to tell us more about the circumstances behind" the expansion of Obama's Chicago townhouse, which involved an "unusual arrangement" with a slumlord named Tony Rezko.