Comment: They're On To Us

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They're On To Us

You do have to read all the ordinances, then see if they're enforced (usually, they do it selectively). It would not be the first time that a jurisdiction will have dealt with people trying to get around them, however. That's why the restrictions tend to escalate, even though the problems are still the same as they always were (e.g., noise, garbage, smells, and "unsightlyness"). The old, property-rights-based laws were best.

My former city proposed a new, much lengthier, ordinance. They had so many defined terms, it tripped them up when I started pointing out:

Besides banning "unsightly basements," they were proposing to ban plants "within five feet of the roof of any structure," plants that attract "vermin" ("vermin" includes "insects," ergo flowers were banned), "celulose debris" (e.g., mulch and compost), peeling paint and "personal property visible from the public right of way" (those were just stupid).

After several appearances before the council, I finally went to a council meeting with five signs containing each council member's name and phone number, which I said I would be required to put on each "uninhabited structure" (e.g., fence, shed, playhouse), naming "the responsible party." Then I asked which one wanted to be on the doghouse.

It has been four years, and they have yet to come back with a revised "public nuisance" ordinance.

The old one respects private property, and had an actual threshold to cross: the infraction had to "substantially" (meaning, "in reality") bring down neighboring property values (not just next-door), or endanger the public. All other disputes were private, between neighbors. The proposed new one made everything illegal, and the code enforcement officer would never lose. No privacy would remain.

What do you think?