Friday, June 20, 2014

City Closing "Little Free Libraries" Because Interesting, Fun Neighborhoods Are So Un-American

A fun little idea has been spreading fast across America: They're called Little Free Libraries.  
An example of a neighborhood Little Free Library. 

You might have seen them. They're little kiosks on suburban and neighborhood streets that look sort of like itty bitty houses in which there are maybe a dozen books.

These are mini-self serve libraries that people voluntarily set up in front of their houses.

Their neighbors can borrow books from these, and maybe even contribute a few tomes.  Little Free Libraries have become all the rage. 

It's a great idea, which means boring zoning officials, aided and abetted by a few homeowners who HATE it when their neighbors do anything vaguely interesting, must put a stop to these little libraries.

So it is in Leawood, Kansas, where the city is telling people to get rid of their Little Free Libraries, or face fines, says television station KCTV in Kansas City.  The zoning people are saying free standing structures are not permitted in front yards.

The reason, of course, is property values. KCTV says a city spokesperson told him that's a main reason behind the crackdown.

Apparently, any deviation from the most bland, beige cookie cutter look to a neighborhood would mean the value of every house on the block would crash to zero, no matter how slight the aberration in the neighborhood.

Now, there is a place for reasonable rules here. It's perfectly fine for a city, and a neighborhood to demand that Little Free Libraries stay little so they don't become de facto businesses, and that they be properly maintained.

That's the same reason why I wouldn't want my neighbor across the street to have a bunch of wrecked cars on blocks on their front lawn, but I don't mind that their flowers are a little unruly. (And the reason I hope that the neighbors don't mind that I'm a little behind on my garden weeding)

As is usual in the case like this, most neighbors in Leawood like these Little Free Libraries, but a few people, who wouldn't speak on camera, called them eyesores.

This battle is remiscent of another suburban battle raging across the nation. Some people are putting vegetable gardens in their front yards, with the logic they might as well make their property productive.

But that once again raised the fear it could Ruin Property Values. Because a tomato plant growing in a front yard would obviously make the McMansion next door look like a run down shack, or something.

In any event, if my neighbor wants to put up a Little Free Library, go for it. Just note I'd probably use the HELL out of it, because its such a fun idea.

I know, I know. I must by un-American for wanting a fun neighborhood. Maybe the zoning board has already begun investigating me.

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