John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, a U.K. town takes care of a snowball-throwing teenager, and California cities ban mobile billboards and force medical-marijuana growers indoors.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (last week's edition here):
• City commissioners in Ocoee, Florida, have banned former city employee Nancy Cox from holding public office for a year. Cox was fired from her post in the finance department in November after a coworker allegedly overheard her muttering, "I need to get out of here before I kill everyone in this office — with a gun." Cox then applied for appointment to six city-advisory committees, alarming elected officials, who scrambled to vote unanimously for the unusual ban. Commissioner Rusty Johnson explained that Cox should use her one-year exile as a "cooling-off period."
• Residents of Yuma, Arizona, are toying with the idea of banning roosters. However, allegiances to the wattled fowl remain split. "I have a very nice yard, they're constantly in my yard tearing up my flowers just causing problems going to the bathroom on the front porch and it's a mess," one annoyed resident told KSWT News. The station then went to another person who found the noise of crowing fowl "comforting." "Sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the day sometimes in the evening, they crow on and off all the time," explained Maureen Merrell. "But it's not distracting, you're in your house."
• A U.K. town has finally decided it won't take any more crap from teenager Kean Lamb. A magistrate in Copthorne recently slapped an order on the 17-year-old yob that forbids him from "throwing, or encouraging others to throw, any object at property or other people," according to the Sun. The ban theoretically prevents Lamb and his buddies from engaging in their favorite pastime: pelting hapless villagers with snowballs. Apparently, they did it often enough that people dreaded seeing snow in the forecast. Said one anonymous victim, perhaps one of the 11 "terrified locals" who testified against Lamb: "When it was snowing you just knew the moment you stepped outside you would be targeted if they were around and they also used to throw snowballs at our windows and doors all the time."
• It is no longer legal for bicyclists to practice tricks in a skateboard park in Middle Township, New Jersey. The ordinance comes on the heels of a series of gruesome collisions between bikers and skaters, two of which were bad enough to require helicopter evacuations. One commenter at Shore News Today blames the accidents on the skatepark's design, saying "these prefabricated 'kiddie parks' don't provide the proper flow and quality necessary for bikers and skaters to co-exist." Cities should invest in "proper" concrete parks instead, he suggests.
• Los Angeles has outlawed mobile billboards, those weirdly shaped vehicles that have no purpose being on the road except for nudging you to buy something awful, like tickets to Carrot Top. The city council passed the measure after deciding that the billboards are endangering drivers and pedestrians, somehow, although really they probably just thought they were eyesores. Scofflaws can have their billboard trucks impounded.
The smell of the mature marijuana plant is best described as a sweet ‘skunkish’ odor. Mature marijuana plants flower for up to two months, producing an extremely strong odor. This odor is noted by many residents as offensive and detectable well beyond property boundaries of the cultivation’s residence.
Personal safety is also an issue as home invasions and robberies have increased in relationship to backyard marijuana growth in the community.
The drying of plants to protect them from mold, mildew or other weather conditions has been noted as a continuous noise problem with commercial fans operating 24 hours a day for extended periods of time.
Marijuana cultivators can still go about their business in Yuba, just indoors within a plot no larger than 50 square feet that's completely hidden from view of the anybody peeking through the windows. Bummer.
Photo credit: Steve Marcus/Reuters