John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, a tony California beach town shoos away smelly persons from its libraries, and the Olympics outlaws everything.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (last week's edition here):
PATRIOTISM, IN MASSACHUSETTS
Until very recently, Captain America would've had to remove his cloths if he wanted to stroll through the Garden Lane public-housing complex in Wrentham, Massachusetts. That's because the local housing authority adopted an ad hoc policy against displaying American flags in public areas. Why do Wrentham bureaucrats enjoy spraying sulfuring acid all over the Eagle of Freedom? Well, around Independence Day one tenant complained about Old Glories flying outside people's apartments, and that was enough for the housing authority to drop the ban hammer (via passive-aggressive notes taped on everybody's doors, naturally).
However, today the Massachusetts state-housing department announced that Wrentham's prohibition was a "mistake that is being corrected immediately,” according to the Sun Chronicle. Perhaps, but not before politicians get to score easy points off this snafu. Here's State Rep. Dan Winslow, R-Wrentham, vomiting outrage to the Chronicle: “[T]his outrageous event points to an imbedded problem about the attitude and experience of the state employees who made this decision in the first place. Those state employees should be fired immediately for incompetence and their jobs filled by unemployed veterans.”
SMELLING UP THE STACKS, IN CALIFORNIA
The tony beach community of Newport Beach, just south of Los Angeles, likes to have a nice, quiet, odor-free library experience. But certain homeless people have been getting in the way of that. So what does the city council do? It passes tighter restrictions on library behavior this week that outlaw sleeping, cursing or "occupying furniture in a manner that suggests lounging," reports KNX 1070 Newsradio. Folks who get tossed on their butts for nodding off over Atonement basically have one person to thank:
“We have a regular customer who comes in and sleeps and lounges on furniture and tells us, ‘You don’t have the authority to stop me from doing this’,” said Newport Beach Library Services Director Cynthia Cowell. “So now this policy gives us that.”
Also not allowed is bringing in a sleeping bag, not wearing shoes, talking loudly, neglecting to keep up one's personal hygiene and the “use of perfume or fragrance which produces odors that interfere with other patrons’ use of library facilities," according to the library's website. Such measures might seem draconian, seeing as homeless people don't have many great options on where to spend their afternoons, but they protect Newport Beach Central Library's status as a destination spot for Hollywood filmmakers (the building was featured in the 1997 film, Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion).
EVERYTHING, AT THE LONDON GAMES
The following things have been banned from the London 2012 Olympics (note: list not inclusive):
- Che Guevara T-shirts
- Any other clothing bearing a political message
- “Non-essential liquids” including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Glass bottles
- Large hats
- Big umbrellas
- Large flags or banners
- More than one soft-sided bag of 25 liters
- “Large quantities of coins”
- Bicycles, in most areas
- Laser pointers
- Walkie talkies
- Personal wireless access points and 3G hubs
- “Any item that is too large to be electronically screened at the point of entry”
- Explosives, knives, mace and other weapons
(Top photo of American flag by ctf71081 on Flickr.)