Tag Archives: local ordinances

Regulation of the Day 130: Roommates

In New York City, it is illegal for four or more unrelated people to live together. At least 15,000 New York homes openly flout the rule.

The ranks of lawless hooligans cut across lines of class and race. According to the New York Times, violators “include young actors and ponytailed post-graduates; rising and falling junior investment bankers; immigrants, legal and illegal; and trend-obsessed residents in Brooklyn neighborhoods.”

The Times also interviewed a young film star who lives with five other people. He is not related to any of them.

People break the regulation to save money on rent. Given the cost of living in New York, this is a smart and prudent way to save money. It also leaves more housing left over for others, which helps to drive down housing costs.

Even better, if enough people pool their resources, they can afford to live in a larger home in a nicer neighborhood than they could pay for alone.

The city has the good sense to rarely enforce the rule – just three times since July, according to the Times. This is good. What would be better is to repeal it. When a law is almost universally regarded as counterproductive, not only should go unenforced, it should go away.

Regulation of the Day 127: Landscaping

Southern California is a dry place, prone to droughts. So Angelina and Quan Ha, of Orange, CA, ditched their water-hungry grass lawn about two years ago. They replaced it with “a drought-tolerant garden filled with lavender, rosemary and native wildflower seeds.” They claim the switch is saving them hundreds of dollars per year, not to mention hundreds of thousands of gallons of precious water.

The city of Orange promptly sued them, claiming their lawn violates local regulations. At least 40 percent of a yard must be covered with living plants. The city contends that the sparse shrubs and plants in the Ha family’s yard don’t meet the threshold.

“Compliance, that’s all we’ve ever wanted,” Senior Assistant City Attorney Wayne Winthers said. “They put up a nice fence, but it didn’t show anything about how they had complied with code, as far as the front yard goes.”

This is a fancy way of saying, “you will do what I tell you.” This is not a healthy attitude for any person to have.

The Has pled not guilty in court on March 2. If they lose, they are looking at up to six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine.

Fortunately, after a rash of bad publicity surrounding the court hearing, the city announced within hours that it was considering dropping the charges.

(Hat tip to Megan McLaughlin)