The last month or so I’ve read more and more stories about people who want to do things that the “rules” say they can’t and then stories are written about them and the headlines they use, don’t really mean what they say.

Take this one for example. I’ve read this on several different blogs and have heard about it on the news and the main headline is “Mother facing jail for growing veggies.” I think it should read, “Mother facing jail for refusing to follow city guidelines.” I’ve read MANY MANY blog posts on this and people don’t seem to understand that it’s not about the “garden” but it’s about what you can and can’t do when you live where you live. While I think gardens are beautiful, I’m not sure I’d want my front yard next to one. I’ve known too many people who let their gardens go unattended. What about all the weeds, bugs and constant watering not to mention the people working in it all the time? I think a backyard would be fine but a front? I’m not sure if I lived in a city that I’d want that.

Then I read a blog post about a woman who bought a house in a “run down” and very low rent neighborhood because it’s what they could afford but the public school in the “hood” has a dress code of:

Pants: black, khaki or dark blue (no Dickies, Southpole or jeans).
Shirts: gray, white or yellow, must have sleeves and color (no patterns, designs, or logos other than the school’s logo).

Now this mother is mad and fighting the school because her son likes to wear Star Wars shirts and jeans. Well, hhhmmmm!!!! Then why did you buy a house in that school district? Everyone else there has to comply with that dress code and it’s there to try to prevent gang activity and make everyone feel equal. Obviously it’s been given a lot of thought or the administration wouldn’t have done it but now you want them to rewrite the rule handbook for you little precious?? Seriously??

Then I read this. Again, this seems extreme but they did bend and let them fly it for the holiday. But yet again, I feel, when you rent or live in an association or in the city that has ordinances, what makes you think “your cause” is different from anyone else’s? I can see an Olympian winner then wanting to hang the Olympian flag during the Olympics. Should this right be allowed? What about if you want to hang voting banners in your yard during an election? Should that be overlooked? Just what “things” should be let go and what “rules” should be enforced?

My mom lives in a Home Owners Association and she can’t have anything in her front yard other than flowers. No wind socks. No “yard jewelry.” No bird feeders. No “Go Vikings” banners. NOTHING. In the back it’s a little more liberal but not much. BUT WE KNEW THAT GOING IN. So once you’re “in,” what makes you think you can do what you want and if you can’t, you cause a big stink and then headlines are made up?? “Senior Citizen Goes To Jail For Loving The Vikings?!?!?! What makes people do stuff like this? It’s NOT about The Vikings. NOTHING IN THE FRONT YARD is the issue!

I think one of the things about these issues are the headlines that “grab” the news and you read the story and that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about someone who broke the rules but thinks their reason is okay.

So, what do you think? Should rules be bent and if so, who for? Is one person more “special” than the next?

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13 Responses to Rules

  1. Laura says:

    This is the exact reason that, the couple of times that we’ve been house-hunting, we’ve had a devil of a time finding a place. SO many places now are part of a “Homeowners Association”, they have “Covenants” attached to damn near any property you try to buy. You can’t put a shed here, you can’t grow flowers there, you can’t have a flag in this one, and you can’t drive certain kinds of cars in that one. It’s amazing that people allow themselves to be ruled in this way.

    That said, these people need to sit down and shut up. Each one of them is in the wrong – although I can most sympathize with the veteran. At least he almost has a leg to stand on, because there are statutes that prohibit the prohibition of the American Flag. Except that rule doesn’t apply to renters, which doesn’t make sense to me. Good for them for trying to change it. The others? Plant your garden in the back yard, it’s probably bigger anyway, and you won’t have random people stealing your cucumbers. And dress your kid in a uniform. He’ll learn to dress properly, and you’ll save money in the long run. Honestly.

  2. Ellen says:

    I think, from how you describe it, the story tellers are not sincere and objective. They bend the story as well. I think, if you buy and even rent a house, you always know what rules there will be in that street. I think you have to stick with the rules. If you do not like it, go to the board of the home owners society and maybe you can come to a solution. But a garden in the front yard????? That is a bit extreme to have, I think.

  3. SKL says:

    Well, I must say I’m not fond of rules! I hate them, especially when they have to do with uniformity. Blah! However, the fact is that people know going in that there are rules, and that there is a risk to breaking them.

    Personally, I will always choose to bend certain kinds of rules, to the extent I can get away with it. Can’t think of any examples in my life currently, but I’m a person who does what makes sense rather than what is arbitrarily “required.” Of course I won’t go to the point of risking jail or a big fine, but if I really want to do something and I think the rule is ridiculous, I’ll try it and see if anyone actually complains. If they do, I’ll most likely conform. I would not throw a big “poor me” tantrum, at least not publicly, LOL.

    So about the garden thing – I didn’t read any of the stories, but frankly I don’t think I would fault a person for planting some veggies to eat when money is tight, despite the rule, as long as they didn’t create a serious eyesore. I mean, just because a rule is on the books does not mean it is ever enforced or anyone actually cares about it. But once asked to come into compliance, don’t make it into a whole national tearfest for the bleeding hearts. Come to a compromise, e.g., can I at least wait until the stuff presently growing is ready to eat, and then come into compliance?

    About the dress code thing – I used to hate the idea of uniforms, but the public school “uniforms” are really just color-specific dress codes. They are not fun, but there is a serious reason behind them. Parents can choose from a wide variety of clothes in all price ranges. And honestly, in this day and age, a parent has to know that many public school districts have dress codes, so it’s hard to excuse them for being “blindsided” after they already bought their kids’ wardrobe. (I also didn’t like that blogger’s excuse that “her” child is a “pretty little white boy,” therefore obviously not a gang member, and thus [apparently unlike nonwhite children] deserves to wear jeans and Star Wars if he wants to.) Personally I would investigate the dress code, whine about it privately just because that’s how I am, and go buy the khaki pants. (Though I personally think they ought to allow jeans, since jeans don’t look bad when old, while most pants look pretty sorry once handed down a couple times.)

    Now it’s one thing to break a rule and put on a “poor me” show. It’s another thing to petition for change. Some rules are stupid. Some are motivated by attitudes that may not reflect the feelings of the current subject population. For example, I read of an “association” that was going to ban kids from playing in the parking lots ever, even though there was no other place for them to play. The rule was being pushed by a few people who were not taking the feedback of the majority of the affected population. Someone heard about it and raised a protest to let the voters know it would be an unpopular rule – or, that if they were going to do that, they needed to designate some ground for kids to be allowed to play. But I think a lot of times, stupid rules are made without checking with the people who will have to follow them. So yes, get the word out, make sure voices are heard by those voting on the rules. But if you find out the rules actually make sense for the majority of people and it really isn’t gonna kill you to comply, then get over yourself.

  4. Granny says:

    The gardening thing was a city ordinance and it was overly vague. They didn’t define the words they used and they didn’t say a word about vegetables in planters until she grew them. Plus the city tore up her front yard in the first place. That being said, you already know I agree with you in principle. We have 3 choices (oops 4).
    Don’t move there in the first place
    Move there and obey the stupid rules
    Move there and flaunt authority – not a great choice, is it.
    Move there and work within the Association or Government body and effect change from within (my usual choice) my favorite unless I’d already decided on option 1..

  5. SKL says:

    To be honest, I have never read the local ordinances that dictate what I can/can’t do with my property. My guess is that I’m not alone. I think most of the time people break these kinds of rules because they don’t know the rule exists. That being the case, there should be some leniency in enforcement, e.g., give the person some time to fix the problem before charging a fine or whatever.

  6. Phyllis says:

    Here’s my question: if the veggies are in planters what’s the problem with moving the planters into the backyard? Ok, so the woman obviously wasn’t aware of the ordinance when she started planting, but now that she is it’s time to move those planter and comply with the rules! I also feel that since the village tore up her from yard it is the village’s responsibility to replace the grass with either sod or seed! That is what I’d be pushing for if it were me.

    Buying a house or condo? I’m sorry, but it is the responsibility of the buyer to read, absorb and then OBEY the rules that go along with the property. If they disagree with the ordinances then buy somewhere else! Especially with condo associations the rules are in place for uniformity. The concern is the appearance presented by the property, maintaing the value of the units and the good of the whole comes before the individuals right to do whatever they please. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. If you want to do your own thing then buy somewhere else! I will never buy or rent where I am told what I am or am not allowed to do with my property. It just won’t happen!

    Dress codes? Give me a break! Unlike those of you who are younger, I grew up in the era when dress codes were a given. Girls wore dresses or skirts and blouses. Nice ones… with dress shoes rather than sneakers. Boys wore nice slacks and shirts (rather than the jeans and t-shirts that were considered “play clothes”), what nowadays are considered “dress clothes”. Regular shoes, and if the pants had belt loops they HAD to wear a belt. Guess what? It didn’t stifle our creativity, our individuality, our personality development or have any other negative effects. It did teach us to conform to the rules or suffer the consequences! It also prevented the boys from walking around looking like thugs and the girls from looking like streetwalkers which is what you see in the majority of the schools today! Dress codes help prepare children for real life since most career opportunities come with an office dress code that MUST be adhered to!

    This whole thing of people thinking they have the RIGHT to disobey whatever rules are in place because they consider themselves special and above the rest of us really just pisses me off!! Yes, if I disagree with something I take a stand on the issue. However, if you know something going in and disagree with it no one has the right to go against the rules and regulations.

  7. Laura says:

    For the record, I suspect that her “planters” are more like these raised garden beds, and therefore, impossible to move. When most of us think of planters, we’re thinking the little window boxes, or flower pots. Even so, I agree that the town should give a bit of leeway, considering that they are the ones who tore up her yard. Funny how there was no hue and cry when it was a dirty eyesore, but now that it is a (presumably) organized garden, people pitch a fit. Suburbia, in general, and in my opinion, places FAR too heavy a value on the appearance of lawns and conformity. I know people who have been ticketed because their grass was 1/2″ too long! Who cares? And do they pay someone to go out and measure? Honestly, those people would have kittens if they saw my lawn. My mower has been broken all season, and my grass is hip-high! The horses love it.

    That said, I still believe that, in most cases, rules are rules, and she should have checked before putting in the planters. I also believe that most rules governing neighborhoods are the result of nosy busybodies with control fetishes.

  8. Nikki says:

    Rules are rules, as petty as some are. These are issues that should be looked at before you purchase or rent a home. We live in an association and the only thing I have heard that they really enforce is no clothes line. I have seen them around but they are in the back yards and I never see clothes on them. I wouldn’t buy a house here though. I rent, I don’t really care too much. If I am going to BUY a house, I will do what I want. Therefore I will not buy a house with those types of stipulations.

    The headlines, they do that to grab your attention. They sound so silly and ridiculous that you just have to read it! Their job is done!!

    • Nikki says:

      Oh, and I also thing veggie/fruit gardens should be in backyards. It’s just my opinion but I think front yards should look nicely landscaped and maintained.

  9. mssc54 says:

    I think you are addressing two seperate things here.

    First; HEADLINES are designed to grab your attention and make you want to pay for the publication (you give them your money). That is completely understandale to me. It’s sort of like marketing.

    Secondly (and the meat of yoru post) is about people wanting to feel that rules apply… to other pepole. HOWEVER, I think there are different groups here as well. The people who buy into a community then complain about the rules are just… to bad, so sad for them. They should have known the laws/rules before they bought in.

    Now for the old lady with the garden in her front yard. You have a few “what ifs” in there. So what. You can’t stop somebody from doing something simply because “other people” have not taken care of their gardens. And based on what the Code Enforcement people said (the definition they used) I think the City is screwed. I hope this lady wins her case. It’s her property. She paied for it and as long as she isn’t causing harm to anyone else then she should be left alone. I hope more people put gardens in their front yards to make her’s seem like it is more the norm than the exception. That would really screw Code Enforcement! Haha!

    Finally, regarding in a community with restrictive covenants; We live in one of those. In fact I am a (very) long time volunteer on the committee that lets you know when you have a violation. It goes unchallenged and is common knowledge that I am the most knowledgeable individual in our entire neighborhood regarding the insand ours of the covenants.

    What many people don’t understand is that if you can get enough of your neighbors together you can vote out the parts of the covenants you don’t like. You can also vote out the Board that runs the thing too. There are ways around many restrictions too. “Over night” parking of boats or commercial vehicles for example. Who is to determine what “over night” is? If it’s there at midnight and you take it out for a few hours and back at 5 a.m., is that over night? The one I’M waiting to pull out of my bag is “no commercial signs.” COMMERCIAL SIGNS! Get it? It doesn’t say that I can’t put up some obnoxious political sign or a sign saying that the Bord of Directors are a bunch of jackasses. Read your covenants closely. There are ways around some things.

  10. Joy says:

    The whole headline thing irritates the crap out of me because the blog I saw this post on was like mad people on a tirade to behead all the officers from city hall and NOBODY read what the story was really about. That’s got to be one of my biggest pet peeve about bloggers. Some commercial blogs do this for hits. I know that but when people totally miss the point, I get so riled up!!!

    The only thing I disagree with you in the “monkey see monkey do” scenario is for people like me, who do read every single contract and code and the “what if’s” BEFORE I’d jump in and buy is, what about our rights? Laura also mentioned it above that she checked that all out while looking BEFORE buying. I’d hate to be surrounded by vegetable gardens in my front yard. I think the back yard is fine but gardens attract bugs, mosquitoes, deer, raccoon’s …….I could go on and on and they do look “unkempt” even while kept. My dad would have a stoke if someone put a vegetable garden next to his front yard. So if enough people “break the rules” in order to get change, what about the people who bought there because they liked what was in the city code?

    • mssc54 says:

      The thing is that it is NOT clear that she is breaking any rules. The city law says “suitable” and further stated that “suitable” (according to Websers) means “common.” I don’t think that is the definition. I see lots of things that are suitable but uncomon.

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