Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Comment from Wayne Lusvardi, Pasadena, California USA:

The American Bar Association has issued an announcement that it is considering barring judges from belonging to any groups that oppose same sex marriage. Apparently, it smacked of MacCarthyism for the U.S. government to hound people after World War II for their communist affiliations (given the Gulags and mass starvations that resulted from communism), but it is not MacCarthyism to ban group affiliations for those who are against same sex marriage. This demonstrates the moral inversion of the Left. This also proves John O'Sullivan's First Law that groups not expressly conservative will over time gravitate to the far Left.


What won't they regulate next?

"Santa Monica recently learned how deeply rooted people's passions for hedges can be after building officials cited some notable residents on a ritzy rue of multimillion-dollar homes overlooking a canyon and the Pacific Ocean. Their crime: towering vegetation. Their punishment: a potential fine of $25,000 a day. Their reaction: Outrage. Thus did Santa Monica come head to hedge with one of today's urban design conundrums: Should residential neighborhoods be more open to the outside world? Or do today's tense times give residents the right to fence themselves in?.....

Complaining that the city had gone too far, one of those cited - Bobby Shriver, a Yale-educated lawyer who is Maria Shriver's older brother (and, yes, that makes him Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's brother-in-law) - urged his neighbors to rise up. And rise up they did, converging on City Hall by phone, by e-mail and in person. As a result, the city attorney temporarily halted enforcing the citations, and the City Council decided to take a fresh look at the decades-old ordinance governing fence and hedge heights.

"It's a thorny issue," said Katie Spitz, a landscape architect with Katherine Spitz Associates in Marina del Rey. Indeed, urban designers say the issue strikes at the heart of the age-old conflict between property owners' rights and the public interest. At its most basic, it is a clash between America's libertarian and communitarian impulses. It also helps explain the boom in gated communities, urban designers say. As expressed in many a city's general plan, the aim is to achieve an "urban village as a place that's densely occupied but still has a high degree of social interaction," said John Chase, urban designer for the city of West Hollywood. "Part of that is facilitated by visibility. You can see the world going by, and the world going by can see you.".....

A local ordinance dictates that hedges and fences be no higher than 3 1/2 feet in front of houses and no more than 8 feet in sideyards and backyards. Over the decades it had been sporadically enforced. But the City Council, prompted by complaints, recently encouraged building officials to crack down on a variety of code violations, especially bootleg apartment units. This led to what some residents call the hedge police. In late April, the city sent Shriver a "compliance order," granting him 30 days to cut his front, side and rear hedges or to schedule a hearing. Although the hedge in front of his Monterey colonial house on Adelaide Drive, on the city's northern edge, is just inches over the limit, his rear plantings soar a good 30 feet into the telephone wires. Bordering an alley, they shield his backyard from the windows of tenants in a low-rise apartment building across the way.....

To William Fulton, senior scholar in USC's School of Policy, Planning and Development, squaring competing needs will require trade-offs to avoid communities that appear to consist of just walls and roads. "People do need to protect themselves from the outside world," he said. "You have to wall yourself off from the world without shutting yourself off. That's the trick in urban design today. It's a tough one.""

And read what the fines for violations are here

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