This might become a regular series. Recently I wrote about California property owners who got into trouble for moving dirt and trees on their property because doing so violated a conservation easement. More recently I read about a municipal ordinance in California that prohibits automotive repairs and maintenance on residential property under certain conditions. That kind of government regulation is probably the most frequent cause to ask, “what do you mean, I can’t __________ [fill in the blank] on my own property?”
There are undoubtedly many situations where car repairs being done on residential property create a genuine nuisance to the neighbors. This recent California example, however, goes way too far, in my opinion. The ordinance recites several prohibited actions when repairing a car on residential property, including “using tools not normally found in a residence.” Does that mean I can’t install a lift in my garage? I know car enthusiasts who have done that. And how does anyone know with any certainty what constitutes a tool not normally found in a residence?
The city government that adopted this ordinance might have been sincerely attempting to address situations that are a material detriment to their community. I suspect that there may be neighborhoods where there are people running auto repair businesses in their home garage or driveway, but the city sure did try to squash a mosquito with a sledgehammer, and in the process squashed a lot of other things that don’t do any harm, don’t you think?
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