In the land of the free, every day, local governments and municipalities trample the rights of citizens to do with their own property what they wish. Over the years we’ve seen people face jail time for the length of their grass, arrested for windmills, and even ticketed for growing food. Now, we’ve discovered a law in Sacramento, California that makes it illegal to repair a vehicle in your own garage.
According to the Sacramento’s Zoning Code, it is illegal for residents of the city to conduct almost any repair to their cars while it is parked in their driveway.
According to the authoritarian words scribbled onto paper by the city’s bureaucrats, “minor vehicle repair” is legal and is defined as follows:
Brake part replacement
Change of oil and filter
Repair of flat tires
Other similar operations
(See section 5.2.0.B of the Zoning Code)
While this may seem reasonable to some, when you read the next section, you are quick to learn that the restrictions make it all but impossible to meet the requirements to carry out any of the aforementioned repairs without breaking the “law.”
Yes. However, it is unlawful for any person to engage in, or permit others to engage in, minor vehicle repair or maintenance in any agricultural, agricultural-residential, residential, interim estate and interim residential zones under any of the following circumstances:
1. Using tools not normally found in a residence;
2. Conducted on vehicles registered to persons, not currently residing on the lot or parcel;
3. Conducted outside a fully enclosed garage and resulting in any vehicle being inoperable for a period in excess of twenty-four hours.
As Jason Torchinsky asks in an oped for MSN, “How exactly do you define “tools not normally found in a residence?” A socket set? A torque wrench? A brake drum puller? This feels like a rule that’s dangerously open to interpretation with pretty minimal supporting evidence.”
Number two is clearly there to prevent people from running off-the-books repair shops, but what if you’re working on a friend’s car? And number three means you can’t do anything unless you have an actual garage, and whatever you’re doing you better get it all wrapped up inside of one day, which, as most of us who’ve dealt with one stubborn, time-sucking, hard-to-reach bolt know, is not always possible.
Of course, “Major Automotive Repair,” that is, anything not explicitly defined under “Minor Automotive Repair,” is not legal anywhere on your own property, even if you’re doing it in the sanctity of your own closed garage.
Just in case you are thinking that this is some fluke archaic law that is not enforced, think again. People are indeed receiving massive fines for it. A commenter on the Grassroots Motorsports forum says he received a ridiculously high fine for fixing his car in his own driveway.
umm, I have not been left alone, they levied a $430 fine yesterday. You can request a hearing to review the code enforcement decision, that costs $700 to complain.
As frequent readers of TFTP know, citations are backed by the threat of violence for non-payment. If the above commenter chooses to ignore the ticket, eventually police will come to his house to kidnap him. If he resists said kidnapping, he will be killed.
But don’t worry, the fine bureaucrats in the Sacramento government office justify this tyranny to keep you safe. They explain it in the following section.
The chemicals involved in major automobile repair can pollute our neighborhoods and endanger the health and wellbeing of our residents. Furthermore, this kind of activity increases vehicle traffic and the visual impact can negatively impact property values.
This justification rings hollow however, because improperly disposing of chemicals is already illegal, and as Torchinsky points out, law equipment uses most all of the same chemicals. Oh, and don’t forget Round-Up!
Besides, lawn and garden care have plenty of very harmful chemicals associated with them—weed killers, pesticides, poisons for all manner of animals and insects—and nobody’s trying to outlaw home gardening.
Of course, no one wants to live next to a home who has a dozen junked cars parked in the front yard dumping oil all over the ground. But this law goes far beyond any reasonable property code and the insanely high fines levied against residents are little more than predatory in nature.
If someone is repairing their own car in their own garage, there is a good chance they don’t have the money to bring it to the shop. Now, instead of only struggling to pay to fix their car, they are now struggling with a $400 promise of government violence. Thanks, Sacramento.