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Fees Can't Build Good Fences




To sustain its serene environment, YourTown, USA—which is a real town—enacted a policy designed to abate public nuisances occurring on residential properties. The nuisance ordinance authorizes the police chief, after two incidents within a twelve-month period in which criminal activity nuisances have occurred on a property, to warn owners in writing that a third incident may result in an order to pay fees. The third finding authorizes YourTown to “abate the nuisance by responding to the activities using administrative and law enforcement actions, and the costs of such abatement shall be assessed on the nuisance property.” On one of YourTown's tree-lined streets lives a couple with a twenty-six-year old son, Jeremy—a real person—whose combination of behavioral disorders produces what his psychiatrist describes as devastatingly difficult symptoms. Jeremy's behavior frequently takes him outside, where he disturbs his neighbors with screams and moans.