300 million Americans: self-help relief for that bloated feeling


Other weblogs might have already mentioned that the poplulation of the United States “officially” topped 300 million this morning [see the U.S. Census Bureau popclock and press release; and Washington Post/AP article].  Only shlep is giving you legal self-help links for coping with the overcrowded and overconsumed feeling that comes with population excess.  (We’re probably also the only weblog pointing to an ironic article in today’s China People’s Daily, which never mentions the American milestone, but reports that the Chinese “one-child policy has helped reduce the country’s population by over 300 million people and postponed the arrival of the 1.3-billion population mark by four years” — emphasis added.)     

 USAmap  The census figures are “causing a stir among environmentalists,” because “People in the United States are consuming more than ever – more food, more energy, more natural resources. Open spaces are shrinking and traffic in many areas is dreadful.”  Experts say that sprawl is the prime culprit, since “where people live, what they drive and how far they travel to work” is just as important as poplulation numbers. According to Michael Replogle of Environmental Defense, “If the population grows in thriving existing communities, restoring the historic density of older communities, we can easily sustain that growth and create a more efficient economy without sacrificing the environment.”  (The Worldlink.com/AP, Oct. 16, 2006)

Whether you’re feeling hemmed in and abused by your neighbors, thinking of fleeing past exurbia to the countryside, or hoping to live a greener lifestyle, there are self-help law resources that can help you make more intelligent decision.  For example:     

Land Use & Zoning Law:    SlicingThePie 

Zoning Articles and FAQs on a wide array of issues can be found at FreeAdvice.com, which looks like a good place to start learning about the zoning process and vocabulary.  They answer questions or dozens of topics, like: What is zoning?  Who controls zoning?  How does zoning affect me?  How do I find what my property is zoned?  How do I object to a neighbor’s zoning request or complain about a neighborhood zoning problem?  What can I do about an adverse zoning decision?  What are spot zoning, buffer zoning, easements?  Can they really ban cohabitation or in-law aprtments? Can I get a variance alone or do I need an attorney? 
You can learn about local land use and zoning laws by going to Megalaw.com’s Zoning page, which has links to cases, statutes and ordinances, as well as other helpful website.   Also, check out Nolo.com‘s advice on How to Find Local Ordinances.

 usaMapN   Neighbor & Home-Related Disputes are covered in some detail at Nolo.com’s Real Estate Resource Center.  There are articles on pets (rights and responsibilities), noise, trees, secondhand smoke invading your apartment or house, boundaries, and more.  You’ll also find lots of Nolo books and software offerings.  And, don’t forget to consider whether to Go to Court or Mediate, and make use of Nolo’s Small Claims Resource Center.  Podcast junkies can even enjoy Nolo’s Dog Law interview.

homeowner’s right to views is a Nolo article that I found quite interesting.  It begins on a cautionary note: Under the caption “Contrary to popular belief, most homeowners do not have a right to their view,” we’re told, “Generally, homeowners have no right to a view (or light or air), unless it has been granted in writing by a local ordinance or subdivision rule. The exception to this general rule is that someone may not deliberately and maliciously block another’s view with a structure that has no reasonable use to the owner” and “A few cities that overlook the ocean or other desirable vistas have adopted view ordinances. These laws protect a property owner from having his view obstructed by growing trees. They don’t cover buildings or other structures that block views.” 

Sniff Before You Leap            original art from Metroland/J.Whipple   YuppyGothic    

As we discussed last year at f/k/a, many persons formerly known as yuppies have been trying to escape urban and suburban ills by moving to the countryside.  However, they often discover after buying a new home that rural life — even amidst small farms — can be both noisy and smelly.  You can learn about resulting nuisance lawsuits and farmer-friendly legislation in a timely Nolo.com article called Rural Neighbors and the Right to Farm.  The article explains that every state in the country has passed right-to-farm laws that “take judges out of the farm management business and protect farmers from the nuisance laws that apply to ordinary neighbors.”  A few states require sellers to warn prospective buyers of nearby annoyances.  Some counties have additional laws, some of which require arbitration or mediation when disputes arise.  Of course, just what constitutes farming is being litigated in many areas — e.g., hayrides or haunted housese?  The Nolo article has tips on locating agencies that can help you figure out just what is a normal farming practice.  See their How to Find Local Ordinances to discover what laws apply in your area.    


usaMapN  Going Green 
Individuals who want to make sure they are complying with local recycling laws and similar measures to protect the environment should check with the unit of government responsible for garbage collection and waste management in your area.  Businesses who want to be as green and socially-conscious as possible, or merely to stay on the right side of environmental and zoning laws can find a lot of help at Work.com, including the following How-to-It Guides:      



usaMapN We may not have eased all of your population-related concerns with this one posting, but you’ve gotta realize that births, deaths and net immigration add up to one new American every 11 seconds, and your humble editor is peddling as fast as he can.

1 Comment

  1. Eric Stoller

    October 24, 2006 @ 4:42 pm


    Thanks for the link.

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