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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is Warrantless Entry The Goal Of Nuisance Law Expansion?

It wasn’t enough that the City Of Janesville enacted an ordinance that leaves law-abiding property owners and landlords responsible for the criminal behavior, noises and nuisances of their tenants. Now they’ve directed their attention at the landlords themselves, which actually has a little more merit because at least they might be punished or fined for things they ARE responsible for - themselves. But that shouldn't mean the City of Janeville should have the power to circumvent basic constitutional privacy and ownership rights of property owners, tenants and their landlords. And that seems exactly where the city is headed with this passage from the Gazette.
JG Excerpt:
Allow the city to take care of the problems—remove the trash and debris, for instance—if the property owner doesn’t and then bill the owner. The city currently has such an ordinance that covers grass cutting, snow and weed removal.
Just how far will the city go into a property or home to enforce such discretionary rules as to clean up debris? Talk about Big Government. This is scary. The main issue of this article also harkens back to a December city council meeting where city staff felt the legal language in some ordinances needed improvement.
Big Brother Code Enforcement Excerpt:
”……to have the ability to go onto private property….without going through the court system. That’s our current practice…to get an injunction.” – Janesville City Staff
Of course that is what they want - to go into any property without an injunction for being guilty of nothing more than that "lived-in look."

If you believe the city is going through all this time, energy and trouble just to clean up a few dirty houses, you're dreaming. Now, three months later, they found a way to improve the legal language in their current nuisance law in what appears to be a go-around of traditional court procedures and decided this time to call it an "expansion." And they have a pliant city council to rubber stamp it. That's the bottom line.


nailgunner said...

Just make sure you measure the height of your lawn daily or your neighbor might report you to the authorities. I just can't visualize city staff as being a viable authority for anything other than when to break for lunch.

Jo Egelhoff, said...

Yeah, I hear you Louis. Am appreciative of your support of personal liberty. On the other hand, the ability to inspect properties in specific instances is a less costly, preventive, approach to neighborhood redevelopment - which can be very costly for municipalities. Nip it in the bud, before whole properties need be torn down - or extensive rehab is required. Broken window theory, and all of that...

Lou Kaye said...

jo, if we begin losing civil liberties because it's too expensive to protect them, we've sold out. If the city wants to make run-down properties or a dirty house a crime, just say so. Because that's what its come to.

Instead of this end-around, the city administration needs to create a rental property registration and handbook with steep fines for violations. Nothing can be too costly as to forfeit property ownership and civil rights, at least not in my opinion.

Lou Kaye said...

You're right nailgunner. In America, it is difficult to visualize non-law enforcement civilian personnel to possess what appears to be both, police and judicial powers. What's even worse is this city administration tends to favor and create ordinances that are enforced at the discretion of the authority. Which means of course, they can discriminate at will.

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