Fairfax County Creates Legislation to Restrict Guests in Private Homes

| by Cassandra Cassillas

Legislators in Fairfax County, Va., want to put a limit on how many people can visit your home and how often they can visit.

The text, which was originally presented to the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 18, would prohibit any group “exceeding forty-nine people in one day [from occurring] more frequently than three times in any forty day period.” They would also like to add more specific language in defining “a permissible ‘group assembly’”

The county’s official website states that there is due cause for the amendment.

“Over the last several years, there have been complaints from residents regarding frequent and large gatherings at neighborhood homes. These gatherings can create parking, noise, and other concerns for the neighborhood. Although occasional, large gatherings...are expected and permissible activities at a home, gatherings that occur on a regular basis involving numerous people can detract from the residential nature of a neighborhood…” the statement reads.

According to Supervisor Pat Herrity, however the number of complaints “haven't even reached 1 percent of the thousands of complaints our Department of Code Compliance investigates a year."

The Supervisor spoke to Watchdog.org about the potential changes in Virginia’s most populous county.

“I believe the county is risking a lawsuit and/or a Constitution challenge by interfering with peoples’ right to assemble. We should be focusing on dealing with the issues and not restricting groups’ rights to assemble,” Herrity stated, referencing the first amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

“This is yet another instance where we appear to be punishing the many for the actions of the few,” Herrity said, reporting there was only a total of six such complaints last year.

John Whitehead, a civil-libertarian attorney at the Rutherford Institute, also spoke to Watchdog.org, and says the new ordinance is “nefarious” and unconstitutional.

“Broad enactments like these have governments assuming that private property is their property. If you can’t determine what goes on at your own residence, you have surrendered your rights. The Constitution is founded on property rights,” Whitehead said.

The fate of the county will be largely decided in the next couple of weeks with three public-feedback sessions – the first of which is to be held Wednesday.