A new year just began. But as the countdown to 2013 was happening, more than one concerned individual must have thought, "What is there really to celebrate? The beginning of a new era of over active government? A new set of regulations that will take more place into our lives? New rules, to on, but from all levels of government on which we never agreed?" The answer is obvious. Nothing is left to celebrate, besides the new technologies that our markets can give birth to this year, or the simple fact that we didn't all die on December 21st and most of us are still going to hang around until 2023, according to NASA.
So what would be an year without any government intervention? So far, fantasy and fiction, as 2013 is beginning on the wrong foot, especially in Miami-Dade County. The culprit is now Miami Springs, which announced its monthly code sweep on its website in the first days of the month.
Miami Springs, a 14,000-inhabitant city in the mid-north of the county is the only town that enforces a Monthly Code Enforcement Sweep, a program that chooses one or two random town regulations every month to be radically enforced by local police forces. The process by which the enforced rules are chosen is obscure and lacks public scrutiny. To have any details about the process, a fee needs to be paid, which shows people how transparent the City of Miami Springs is.
This month, the two ordinances chosen by the local government for enforcement are an old rule about house address numbers and a ban on RV parking on front yards. Beginning on Monday, according to a local Finance Department official, police forces will spend their time checking every single house for possible code violations and writing appropriate fines.
True, these are simple rules that do not need a lot of resources to abide by. Unless, as many did, someone recently spent a couple hundred dollars more than expected on Christmas and just wish to wait a little before wasting another $5 per appropriate house number. But the core problem is not there.
The real issue is the nature of the law.
According to city officials, this regulation is necessary to guarantee easy access to firefighters, police officers, etc. This is a ridiculous claim because of today's technological advances involving GPS systems, Google Maps and Apple Maps on cell phones, and many others. Even more importantly, the rule interferes in the individual's right to use value in commercial exchanges. It is up to the consumer to decide which is more important and has more value at a certain point in time: saving money for future consumption or purchasing larger house address numbers to doubtfully help law enforcement locate your house?
The RV issue is even more problematic. The City of Miami Springs prohibits front yard parking and allows RV parking in side yards only with a very restrictive variance. There is no illegal RV parking epidemic in Miami Springs, so questions are left to be answered as to why wasting so much time and resources for such an irrelevant matter.
The specifically enforced code does not talk about parking on public property, which would be a street. It regulates the right of RV owners to park their vehicles on their own, honestly-acquired private property. Both side and front yards are nothing but private property, even if they can be seen from the street, and the local government has no duty in regulating what's going on within a privately-owned piece of land.
The Monthly Code Enforcement Sweep is also an open door for controversy. On the one hand, if residents do not have the time to abide by the enforced rules, the town is clearly enforcing totalitarian rules. If, on the other hand, townsmen claim that police officers won't be able to fine anyone in the first days of the program, then it means that the police is a wasteful group of incapable individuals.
A government that forces individuals to buy a specific kind of house numbers and prohibits parking despite landowners' approval is already breaking the social contract of a just government, the duty of which should only be to protect, not restrict, private property. Even though they seem as irrelevant rules for an outsider, they both represent challenges to the victims of the code enforcement and a slippery slope to government intervention into private affairs.
Miami Springs will go through its general election cycle in March. From the looks of it, the current Establishment is planning to stay in power. But in 2012, dozens of voters chose a libertarian candidate either for the presidential elections (65 for Ron Paul during the GOP primaries, 22 for libertarian third party candidates in November) or for the senatorial contest (with 55 ballots for Bill Gaylor). Also recently, the newly-established Libertarian Party of Miami-Dade County vowed to focus on the local elections in the county.
If a libertarian runs in March to challenge the Establishment, he or she will probably attack the Monthly Code Enforcement Sweep. In fact, a better program would be a Monthly Code Lift, which would choose two unpopular regulations in the city and eradicate them from the Code of Ordinances, every month.
Only then will Miami Springs be a healthy, prosperous community.