There are two things in this world that cannot be criticized: another person's property and another person's children.

It is impossible to ever say anything about the way someone else's kid acts or behaves, publicly or otherwise. That kind of language, no matter how well-intended, always leads down a bad road full of bumps, loud noises and, possibly, a punch in the face.

We have to learn to just grin and bear it, perhaps by concentrating on the fact that none of us have to go home with that kid. As it goes, life can always be worse.

People have similar sentiment on their property and homes. Again, we can always smile, turn away and be grateful it's not our home.

There's a distinct difference between the two: what happens or does not happen to your kid will probably not impact me in any way, while what you do or do not do to your property most certainly can.

For example, a friend of mine moved to a new house in Oklahoma City a year ago. It was fine for a while until the next door neighbor was required to cut back her branches and care for her backyard.

Calamity ensued.

Every day, my friend told me, she would just pull her car into her garage, shut it, and never come out. You could not speak to her; the door went unanswered all of the time.

City officials fared no better, and eventually problems started to arise in my friend's home. Fleas drove their dogs insane and began biting the human inhabitants while they slept. 

The neighbor's yard was a virtual jungle, violating city maintenance code. Finally, the homeowner budged, but it was a few miserable, itchy months too late.

We cannot live in a society where the perpetual attitude is "my house, my business." Certain things are all of our business, because it impacts all of us.

Unkempt yards and haphazard neighborhoods drive things like property values and taxes. These are facts, not some excuse invited by nosy civil engineers who just want everything exactly as they like it.

Sometimes, however, the way they like it is not possible.

I agree with most of Chickasha's city codes. Lawns need to be maintained, noise needs to be at a respectable level, and certain things just don't need to be built in certain places.

However, the whole part about paved surfaces for driveways or parking spaces is a step too far.

The citizens of the town in Texas where I used to live, Marble Falls, ran into this same exact problem. The city proposed amendments to its current set of codes, including the requirement for paved parking surfaces.

Residents threw a fit, saying they could not afford to pave driveways. They felt it was an unfair cost to put on fixed-income residents, the elderly and the poor.

So the city compromised: instead of paved surfaces, the code said there needed to be a designated parking area.

This could be made with gravel, for example, or even some wood thrown down to make a partial rectangle where a car or two could fit every day on the side of the house.

I don't see why Chickasha can't do the same. It completes the goal of an orderly-looking neighborhood and at the same time keeps residents from having to either break the bank or face years of citations and fines.

Codes are meant to help us all, yes. But it's hard to implement a helpful code when its effects can also be so damaging.

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