San Francisco Supervisor Launches Initiative to Update, Ditch Silly Laws

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San Francisco resident Kimberly Conley and her husband Amandeep Jawa break the law and do so with pride. The couple have a home in the Mission District neighborhood and participated in a campaign for people without cars to “reclaim” their private parking space, designing “parklets” that can be enjoyed by the whole community.

Eventually, their street space featured a topiary triceratops. The couple so loved the parklets that they were married in one in 2012, during the Sunday Streets festival. All this happened in the space that she wouldn’t have used for her car if she had one, because she has a garage. In fact her primary mode of transport—a bicycle—does stay in the garage in direct violation of the San Francisco Code.

Chapter six of the code indicates that garages in apartments, houses, and hotels only store automobiles. Thus, this means that workbenches, storage racks for holiday decorations, and lawn care tools have to go somewhere else. Laws like this went largely unnoticed until attorney Gary Rabkin pointed out how silly they were on the San Franciso Decoded website.

Mark Farrell, representative of District 2 on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, has launched an initiative to help San Francisco rid itself of dated, unnecessary, and silly laws. Using the website, he hopes to identify which laws need updated or removed, and will consider suggestions from other San Franciscans. He’s even co-sponsoring a scholarship to encourage college students to develop and submit their own ideas.

The right-leaning Institute for Justice has offered its own suggestions in a report on their website. Calling San Francisco a city not “known for protecting property rights and economic liberty.” They go on to cite restrictions against food trucks, rent control policy, and the “transient occupancy tax” that is intended for hotels being levied at individuals who rent rooms in their home to travelers via the website Airbnb.