Category Archives: Zoning and Land-Use

NIMBY, Granny!

Oh dear.

“Stonemill Farms will be the scene of many memorable days with family and friends alike,” according to marketing materials. The development, with its $300,000 to $500,000 homes, is “the perfect place to raise a family,” the website boasts.

Sounds like a nice place. At least until the influx of the brain-devouring proto-zombie hordes (Alzheimer’s patients).

But maybe not if your family is like that of Woodbury resident Marilyn Nehring, whose husband, Jerry, has few memorable days now because he has Alzheimer’s disease.

Residents at Stonemill are opposing an attempt to turn an empty retail site into housing for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Another man opposed it if there were “one-tenth of one percent chance that anything could happen to a kid.”

A woman holding a baby fretted that potential clients with brain damage probably led lives of daring and danger, which might return. They don’t have “the fear, the healthy fear, that the rest of us have,” she said.

Nearly everyone who spoke against the facility had concerns that their children might be attacked or see an elderly adult do something inappropriate.

Depressing. Just depressing. Now, I’ve had more experience with Alzheimer’s patients than many. Prior to college, I worked a summer in maintenance at a nursing home. The Alzheimer’s ward was easily the most depressing* of the entire complex, as some of these folks just didn’t have a handle on reality. For example, one particularly depressing patient constantly asked the nurses what time her (the patient’s) daughter would be arriving, since she was scheduled to come that day. Every day this woman was “waiting for her daughter”, and every day her wait was fruitless; I’m not sure she even had a daughter. Almost more heartbreaking were the families who would show up to see their loved one, only to not be recognized at all. I can’t imagine anything worse than having to go see a loved one in the hospital and dealing with the hurt of him/her not even knowing me.

That being said, there was no danger there.

The Alzheimer’s ward was locked down. Keycodes were required for entry and exit, doors were alarmed, and everyone in the place (including lowly maintenance workers like me) were well-trained on the security procedures. Staffing was far heavier in this ward than most (as the patients needed much more individual care), but even those who were fully ambulatory weren’t exactly threats to the community.

The summer I worked at that home (the summer of my 18th birthday) was definitely one of the better learning experiences of my life. As depressing as some of the areas of the home were, exposure to reality is part of life. At the very least, having that experience made me thankful for what I do have in life. Now, as a parent it is my responsibility to control what access my kids have to that reality, and at some ages I wouldn’t subject a child to some of these things. But I would do so out of respect for my own child’s ability, at a certain age, to fully comprehend a situation, not out of fear for his well-being. Even though there are locks on the doors, this is a hospital facility, not a prison.

Often these types of misconceptions about people are only heightened by insulating society from their very existence. These parents are merely inculcating the same misconceptions and paranoia into their own kids**. How sad.

Hat Tip: Free Range Kids
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Find Out What Happens When HOAs Stop Being Polite — And Start Getting Real

Homeowner associations [HOAs] are a bit of a prickly issue for libertarians. On one hand, they are voluntary, so you don’t have to choose to move into an area that has one. On the other hand, they are common enough (and arbitrarily nasty enough in many situations) that it is a significant limit to purchasing decisions to avoid them. Further, choosing a home with an HOA does not necessarily mean that the HOA you move into will resemble itself 5 or 10 years down the road — it may be much more restrictive. Much like local control of politics and federalism, choice is better than non-choice, but at the same time when a libertarian sees an organization that infringes upon property rights, the libertarian bristles.

Occasionally, though, an HOA does something worthy of genuine outrage. Especially when they do so in a callous and inhuman manner, which is the case here:

Kimberly, a 6-year-old in the custody of her grandparents, is facing eviction by local law enforcement because her grandparents live in a retirement community. The child has lived in the house her whole life, as her mother is unable to care for her due to unspecified drug problems. Now authorities plan to remove the girl from the only home she’s ever known and place her in foster care with strangers due to a homeowners association policy.

Kimberly’s grandparents, Jimmy and Judie Stottler, have been unable to sell their home and move elsewhere due to the housing market crash. The Stottlers have even lowered the price from $225,000 to $129,000, willing to get completely hosed on the move just to keep their family intact, but no one is buying. The battle has been going on for several years, the better portion of Kimberly’s life, but the Stottlers are of limited resources to fight the situation.

That’s bad. But this quote (from the HOA president) is the truly callous part:

“No, the sheriff will. I will merely be the President of the Board who is trying to enforce the policies of our association that she agreed to when she moved in.”

Yes, you’re not the one throwing a six-year-old girl out of the only home she’s ever known, and the care of two loving “parents” who never expected a child to be thrust upon them to be raised because her biological parent had abdicated all responsibility. You’re not responsible, it’s all the sheriff — who just happens to be acting on the orders you gave him. What’s the life of a small child worth? Obviously not as much as your rules.

I’ve never understood how the acquisition of a little bit of power can seemingly remove someone’s sense of humanity. Maybe this douchebag never had it to begin with?

Common Ground for the Left and the Right on the Bill of Rights

Petty Meddlers Face Jackboot

Homeowners’ Associations are one of life’s little sour tastes of government. Petty meddling nannies who tell you that you can’t do X, or that you must do Y, in order to keep the neighborhood “uniform” or somesuch. Sadly, it’s also a microcosm for most peoples’ reactions to government. When it’s a neighbor doing something they don’t like, they scour the by-laws for a way to run off to the HOA board of directors to get a nice little note sent to the neighbor. But when it’s their own behavior scrutinized, they think the HOA board of directors is an intolerable PITA.

So you can imagine I’m not a big fan of HOA’s, and there’s a little bit of schadenfreude in watching them get their hands slapped… But I still can’t support this (via Ezra Klein — hence calling this “good” — on Waxman-Markey):

Lots of small tweaks were added in the past day or two. And some of them were good! Rep. Dennis Cardoza, for instance, added a smart amendment to discourage neighborhood associations from prohibiting solar panels of aesthetic grounds.

So, they can tell you not to paint your door green, but they can’t stop you from filling your roof with a solar array the size of a tennis court.

I have a coworker facing this issue right now. He lives in Newport Beach, CA, and his HOA has some waterfront homes. One of his neighbors with oceanfront (cliff, not sand) is planning to put solar panels down the face of the cliff to electrically heat his pool. This, of course, is California. There are environmental laws, and the HOA doesn’t want to see this happen either. But being California, they ALREADY have laws that stop the HOA or anyone else (including the Greens) from interfering, because solar energy takes precedence. Now it sounds like this will extend nationwide.

This is one of those issues that gets thorny for libertarians. It comes down to property rights, but the question of what legitimate hindrances can be placed on the owners by HOA’s. After all, an HOA is a contract that a buyer of a house willingly enters into. But it doesn’t seem to me like an issue in which Congress has any right to intervene.

As a renter who is waiting for the complete collapse of the market before I buy a home, I know that I may be faced with a tough decision regarding my purchase based upon whether or not I’ll choose a neighborhood with an HOA, and whether the existence of an HOA is enough to dissuade me from the house we otherwise find desirable. But I know what I don’t want, and that is for Congress to be the one telling my HOA what it can or cannot do.

The District of Corruption Owns Your Driveway

In Washington, DC aka the District of Corruption, the friendly local meter maids are now issuing parking tickets, on your driveway.

Beverly Anderson is mad as hell. She just started to get tickets for parking in her own driveway.

That’s right. The District of Columbia is ticketing people who park their cars in their own driveways.

“This is clearly an attempt by the city to extort money out of property owners,” Anderson tells WTOP.

Anderson has received two of the $20 tickets in the past month. Anderson has owned the Capitol Hill house (and the driveway, so she thought) for more than ten years and has never gotten a ticket. And she’s not alone.

Well, you’re probably thinking that DC’s Department of Public Works have raided Marion Berry’s crack stash. However, there is strangely enough, a legal justification behind this obvious money grab by the District of Corruption:

“Any area between the property line and the building restriction line shall be considered as private property set aside and treated as public space under the care and maintenance of the property owner.”

Basically what that means is most property owners in the District don’t own the land between their front door and the sidewalk, but they are responsible for taking care of it. It’s why you can get a ticket for drinking beer on your front porch in the Nation’s Capital. You’re technically on public space. It’s also why the city can ticket you for parking in your own driveway if you don’t pull your car deep enough into the driveway beyond the façade of your house or building.

Apparently, in DC, you just own the building and land directly under it. You merely maintain District property outside of your front door. How nice of them.

Perhaps every property owner should sue the District of Corruption and the Federal Government for fraud because they thought they were buying the house and the entire lot. Instead, they’re taking everything between the front door and the sidewalk. Any DC residents up for that lawsuit?

h/t: Hit and Run

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The Hayride.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
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