Garage Band

Governments pushing regulatory regime too far

A crackdown on Dearborn residents using their own garages as “living spaces” has resulted in national coverage — and outrage.

The city planning commission claims the ordinance is there to prevent (in the words of one commissioner) “eyesores” like sliding doors on garages and “chaos” from more cars being parked on the streets.

The issue is really about silly government restrictions. Most cities manage to have rules about parking on the streets overnight without resorting to this type of ban and regulations regarding “eyesores” should always be looked at skeptically.

The trend is particularly popular among Dearborn’s Arab and Muslim populations, who are fighting back against the mandates.

“We chose this country because we have rights,” Muheeb Nabulsy, an immigrant from the Middle East who has a sliding door on his garage, told the Detroit Free Press.

Regulating garages is small potatoes, in the grand scheme of things. But it’s nonetheless intrusive and questionable. It’s not just garages, either. Local governments shut down lemonade and hot dog stands, state governments enact restrictive occupational licensing regimes, and the federal government is rapidly expanding the administrative state.

The most basic role of government is to protect private property rights of individuals. At the very least, government should have to prove harm before outlawing something.