Who doesn’t like front porches? You can lounge there on a warm, breezy summer afternoon, rain or shine, visit with the neighbors or just watch the world go by.
So it seems kind of weird that for so long, if you wanted to build a porch onto the front of your house — even if your house originally had one but it got demolished during some apparently anti-porch era of the past — or unenclosed and enclosed your front porch, you just couldn’t in Riverside.
The reason for the ban on new porches was the issue of encroachment on what in Riverside is known not as a front yard (because there are far too many homes in Riverside where it’s tough to pinpoint the “front”) but as a street yard.
The 1869 General Plan for Riverside envisioned long, interrupted vistas of broad lawns dotted by trees — the village in the forest. Adding porches was seen as something that would restrict vistas.
But the village board in 2017 sees things differently. In an attempt to encourage open front porches, trustees decided earlier this month to get rid of the somewhat nonsensical ban on opening up existing enclosed front porches.
But they also decided an encroachment of 9 feet into a front yard, sorry, street yard, wide enough to accommodate a porch wouldn’t have a negative impact on Olmsted’s plan or the village’s national landmark status.
Whether this amendment to the code will result in a proliferation of new front porches is tough to say, but there will surely be some, and may result in the restoration of older homes that originally had porches.
To us, that’s not a bad idea.