Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Town won't let unmarried parents live together

Here's another one of these unbelievable stories that make me wonder what country I'm living in. These paternalistic assholes keep trying to control other people's lives to satisfy their own misguided notions of morality. Occupancy permits are not intended to be instruments of moral judgment, but rather to make sure structures are sound and are being used in accordance with their zoning and permitting etc... Hopefully these idiots will get enough bad publicity that they're forced to change this rule.

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John Howard said...

This is ridiculous. And why is it ok to be unmarried and have one child? Do you have to publicly denounce that child as a mistake in order to stay? Who makes up stupid rules like this?

Storm said...

JRH I think you reached too far in your analysis. You tried to make it a moral arguement which you sort of remediated with your comment. The ordinance does not prohibit an unmarried couple from living together, nor does prohibit an unmarried couple with 1 child.

But I do not want to sound like I am defending this ordinance frankly I get want they were trying to do. They (the citizens through their government) are trying to control where certain activities take place in their city. In other words you would not want a home for juvenile delinquents on one side and a boarding house on the other side.

Its really up to the citizens in that community to vote to change the ordinance (or not). The website for the city dsaid they were going to have some sort of town meeting to discuss it. I wonder how many people actually showed up?

Chris Howard said...

I understand why the original ordinance was created, but the recent decision and the mayor's comments show that they are now using this ordinance as a tool to impose morality.

Storm said...

I still fail to see how you are arriving at that conclusion.

Did you read the Press release issued by the town? It is almost a plea for citizens to come forward so the ordinance can be challenged.

If the law had be written in 1885 instead of 1985 I might agree with the morality connection but the ordinance says nothing about 2 unmarried people living together.

I still hate to defend it because I too agree it might be too restrictive by limiting the number of children in such a home. I think the same objective could be accomplished by simplying outlawing any business non-profit or profit from operating in the area.

The other factor I am concerned that we do not know has to do with whether this is a historical area of the community. Several websites advised these occupancy ordinances are used to protect historical buildings from reconfiguration into multifamily dwellings.

Ultimately, this was a good debate but the citizens of Blak Jack have to decide. I seek not to impose my will on them.

Chris Howard said...

I've been looking around, but I don't see the press release, or do you mean the mayor's statement?

The council voted 5-3 against a recommendation made last month by the planning and zoning commission that would have allowed "two unrelated individuals having a child or children related by blood, adoption or foster care relationship to both such individuals" to live in a single-family dwelling together.

Mayor Norman McCourt issued this statement to explain the city's position: "The purpose of these occupancy permit laws generally is to avoid overcrowding by non-related parties, assure the lifelong maintenance of the city's housing stock, prevent new buyers from being obligated to repair residences that were not kept up to code, preserve the character of the neighborhoods and the city, and to protect the general safety and welfare of the city's residents."

The surprise decision followed months of public outcry against the city for denying occupancy permits to unmarried couples who have more than one child. The current ordinance prohibits more than three people from living together unless they are related by "blood, marriage or adoption." It had been used to prevent unwed people from living together with their children.

The council voted on a recommendation that would have eliminated the moral aspect of the ordinance, but still appears to let them restrict houses from being used inappropriately, but they rejected it. The quote above is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I haven't found anything that indicates that the mayor or the council are concerned about changing the ordinance. In fact, if the above statements are true, it sounds like they are enforcing it to the letter. It's kind of ironic from my perspective. In NE Florida where we live, the city council regularly trashes the city's state-mandated comprehensive development plan and lets developers build anything anywhere they want with no restrictions.