The city building code in Austin, Texas, applies to all structures — even a child’s treehouse. The Meroney family discovered this the hard way when they found a notice to stop work on their son’s new treehouse taped to their front door.
The treehouse allegedly violated a city ordinance because it is located above a public right away, a building inspector concluded. The treehouse on the small lot of land is located about 15 feet above the right of way. The right of way, the city says, includes the air above it.
To make matters worse, the inspector asked the family to tear out the tree house.
“It’s possible that we could apply for a variance and get an exemption from the right-of-way-ordinance, but it would probably be a very complicated process and involve multiple city departments and get quite expensive along the way,” Shannon Meroney told KEYE TV.
Boys Had Looked Forward To It
Meroney’s husband, Mike, decided to build the treehouse for his sons Griffin, 6, and Cal, 7, after watching a show called Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet. Griffin told KEYE he wanted to read in the treehouse.
The treehouse was constructed between two oaks in the Meroney’s front yard. Mike Meroney said the structure does not interfere with traffic on the street, trash pickup or power lines. If it does, the tree limbs do, as well. Meroney said he didn’t think he needed a permit to build a treehouse.
“This was 100 percent for the boys,” Shannon Meroney said. The Meroneys are circulating a petition among their neighbors in an attempt to get the city to back down.
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Some Other Dumb City Ordinances
Some other cities around the US have local ordinances that are completely ridiculous. Examples uncovered by dumblaws.com include:
- An ordinance in Boulder, Colorado, that makes it illegal to put upholstered furniture or any furniture created for indoor use on a porch or patio. That includes couches and arm chairs. Lawn and deck furniture is allowed.
- All windows in Hudson, Wisconsin, must be covered by a screen between May 1 and October 1.
- It is illegal to hang clothes on an outdoor clothesline in Cape Coral, Florida.
- City ordinances require all houses in Seaside, Florida, to have white picket fences and two-story porches.
- Owning a rooster is illegal in Lompoc, California.
- It is illegal to plant oleander flowers or plants in Norco, California.
- Homes in Prunedale, California, are restricted to having just one bathtub.
- Homeowners in San Diego can be fined $250 for leaving their Christmas lights up after February.
- Residents in much of San Jose, California, may not own more than three cats or two dogs.
- A business must get a special permit from the city to hold a going-out-of business sale in Thousand Oaks, California.
- It is illegal to leave sand in your driveway in Walnut, California.
- It is illegal for a rooster to crow within the city limits of Ontario, California.
- Residents of Staten Island, New York, are restricted to watering their lawns with handheld hoses.
- It is illegal to park your boat on your lawn in Cranford, New Jersey.
- It is illegal to chain a wheelbarrow with a for-sale sign on it to a tree in Des Plaines, Illinois.
- Trucks must only be parked inside closed garages in Park Ridge, Illinois.
- It is illegal to have a basketball hoop in your driveway in Peoria, Illinois.
- Households in Wellington, Kansas, may not own more than four cats.
It looks like you now have to check with your local government to do virtually anything on your own property in many American cities.