Building codes

Why We Need Government: To Prevent 9-Year-Olds From Running Free Little Lending Libraries


Advances in providing for the education and enlightenment of the general public, from the city of Leawood, Kansas, as reported by KMBC TV:

Leawood city leaders have told Spencer Collins that he has to stop sharing books with his neighbors.

Collins had to take down his little free library, essentially a communal bookshelf, on Wednesday. The motto of the sharing center had been "take a book, leave a book," but Collins learned there's a lot less give and take in city government….

"When we got home from vacation, there was a letter from the city of Leawood saying that it was in code violation and it needed to be down by the 19th or we would receive a citation," said Spencer's mother, Sarah Collins. 

Leawood said the little house is an accessory structure. The city bans buildings that aren't attached to someone's home.

The hand of government is wise, and sympathetic, but it must be firm:

"We empathize with them, but we still have to follow the rules," said Richard Coleman of the City of Leawood. "We need to treat everybody the same. So we can't say if somebody files a complaint but we like the little libraries—we think they're cute—so we ignore it. We can't do that."

Because Leawood is a community that cares about culture, but also about safety: "Leawood said it has received two complaints about Spencer Collins' library."

Meanwhile, the utopian anarchists in neighboring community Prairie Valley "told KMBC 9's Haley Harrison that the city simply doesn't enforce codes that would restrict little free libraries."

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  1. And who complained?

    The not-so-nice part of me would like to know.

    1. I’m guessing Richard Coleman and…Richard Coleman.

    2. There will always be someone who complains. Always.

    3. Employees of the public library?

  2. Two complaints? Two different people are such scumbags? Neighbors like that, you should move, little boy.

    1. To be fair, you only have the government stooge’s word that there were any actual complaints.

      1. But then again, there’s always some busybody ready to complain about anything.

        1. Thanks to government, they can complain anonymously, so nobody will know who the asshole is.

        2. Yeah, my friggin grandmother was one.

  3. Leawood said the little house is an accessory structure. The city bans buildings that aren’t attached to someone’s home.

    So no garden sheds, greenhouses, detached garages, pool houses, etc.? Surely they enforce this statute fairly and evenly, right?

    1. I doubt it, and I think you know why…

    2. “And don’t even get me started on those ‘Holy Mother Shrines’!”

    3. If that’s an accessory structure, a mailbox is an accessory structure. Ban mailboxes!

    4. Birdhouses. This “structure” is about the same size a a birdhouse. This is all about CONTROL.

      I presume that they could win if they took this to court since the structure is too small to be occupied by a human being – occupied in the sense of a human being able to actually fit inside the structure.

      Also, what about those free-standing plastic/metal boxes one finds in business areas and used to distribute free papers, used-car and real-estate catalogs, etc.

      Also, also First Amendment, bitches.

      1. This is all about CONTROL.

        Yep. The public libraries and school libraries hate the idea that this neighborhood could be served by an individual for free. No union jobs, no fancy buildings, no ability to CONTROL what people read, how they learn, or how they interact. A public librarian sees this and thinks, “OH MY GOD ANARCHY!!!!!!!”

      2. By this definition a mailbox is a free standing structure. Whatever you think of zoning, the problem here is not the zoning law. The problem here is the idiotic way the city is interpreting it. And yes, the interpretation is all about control and cowardice on the city’s part.

        1. What is zoning?

          A mechanism of control.

    5. That little thing in the picture is no bigger than a doghouse. I guess all doghouses have to be attached to the main house now? Should they have potable water and a low flow toilet too?

  4. Leewood is a very rich suburb of Kansas City. It if full of the worst sorts of soccer moms, religious busy bodies and other assorted petty tyrants and their ilk.

    This case really isn’t about zoning. The problem here is not so much the zoning laws it is how public officials have become so cowed by the the treat of litigation they refuse to exercise even the most obvious judgement and resort to mindlessly enforcing every rule as literally as humanly possible so no one later can accuse them of favoritism or worse “discrimination”. In more enlightened times the city would have threw the complain in the trash and if asked why told the complainant “because a small box on stilts is not a building, now go away.” And even today the courts would give them deference on that determination. Yet, they won’t make even that obvious determination because they are so terrified of someone thinking they might be discriminating. I mean what if a black resident wants to build an unattached garage? He could say we let the cute white girls have detached buildings but not black men. People would think we are racist.

    This is how these idiots thing.

    1. They are not afraid of discriminating, believe me. Leawood is famous(I live in KC) for old zoning laws that made it illegal for blacks and Jews from living there. Today it’s famous for city councils effectively picks who can live there and what you can do on your own property and who can work on their mansions.
      The town’s nepotism and backstabbing is well known. I’m just guessing, but I think this was just personal pettiness between neighbors and one used the CC to attack.

  5. The Simpsons, appropriate as always: “Hey, they’re trying to learn for free!”

    To be fair, many of those books probably lacked trigger warnings. You never know what might happens if someone reads “The Road” without being warned how boring it is.

    1. There could have even been some Ayn Rand in there!!!! *faints*

      1. I’m old enough to remember when it was mostly those on the right that complained about books. Times change. Times change.

  6. “We empathize with them, but we still have to follow the rules,”

    Remember, folks, rules and laws are simply things that allow people not to think and to avoid having to make judgement calls and to avoid responsibility for decisions. That’s what rules and laws do. Lots of people love rules and laws for just that reason, because thinking is hard and responsibility means sometimes having to deal with the repercussions of making choices.

    The more rules and laws you have, the more of this shit you get.

    1. Yes. That is how bureaucracies work. Having lots of rules and no discretion relieves everyone from responsibility for their decisions. I am rally sorry I have to fuck you Episiarch, but the rules say I have to. Rules become this kind of supernatural force above anyone’s control. No one is in charge or responsible anymore. We all just live by the “rules”.

      1. Do you see now why someone might be interested in anarchy as an idea, John? Think of ideal anarchy (which we’re never going to get) as human beings interacting with each other without a forest of rules and laws, thereby forcing them to think and reason about each interaction. What I would like to see is as much of that as possible, because it makes it so those interactions can’t be relegated to being all about rules and laws. Humans are too complex for rules and laws to apply to all situations. We have reason and judgement for a reason.

        1. The ideal was the common law. There you had a few simple rules and let judges apply them to individual situations over the course of hundreds of years. You ended up with this incredible piece of collective wisdom that was flexible enough to let future judges bend it to fit any situation and avoid absurd results. If the “rule” produced and absurd or unjust result, the judge just distinguished it from the prior case and made a new rule for this case.

          The more we get away from that and try to have rule by code, the more insane and evil our government becomes.

          1. Yep.

          2. So we are actively destroying common law? I recall perusing a study showing common law and specifically how it handles property rights being the key to economic success and happiness. We’re going backwards.

        2. Anarchy doesn’t mean no rules or laws. It means no central authority to enforce them with violence.

          1. It means one could go to Boulder and openly light up at the Pearl Street mall – and inhale.

            Wait, I hear one can do that now.

            1. Sometimes I miss that place. But then I remember how dickish the cops there are and the nostalgia quickly fades.

            2. Except tobacco. It’s not politically acceptable so you’ll probably get arrested if you light up a traditional cigarette.

              1. Except tobacco. It’s not politically acceptable so you’ll probably get arrested if you light up a traditional cigarette.

                I remember when Boulder enacted this ordinance that made it a crime to smoke tobacco in a restaurant. First offense was a $100 fine and three offenses could land you in jail. Meanwhile pot was a $50 ticket.

                1. Curious – did you ever live in or near Boulder?

                  What a great college town (aside from all the things most of us here do not like which can be found almost any where else).

                  I know you do not exactly follow sports, but going to Boulder and staying for a few days and then seeing the Buffalos play at Folsom Stadium should be on the bucket list.

                  1. I lived in Boulder for five years. Fun place. Pearl Street is great. Spent many nights at the Dark Horse saloon. As far as I know they still have a live act every Wednesday night with drink specials and lots of drunk college girls.

                  2. I have. “Great” is relative to what all you can do or what goes on in the town, I suppose.

                    The police are wont to breaking and entering places, amongst other things.

                    Combined with the idiot notions of tobacco smoking being a problem, but Pot not being so (nothing against Pot, but…), charging people 10 cents per bag at groceries and other stores, and the like, you couldn’t get me to live there.

                    Too expensive. Too stupid. But..the expensive part’s partially DUE to the stupid.

                    Watching the Bufs play isn’t on my bucket list. Being able to get a decent bit of land to put a proper horse farm along US-36, north of town on without spending five or ten million or dodging all those “conservation easements” is one of mine, seriously. That’ll probably never happen.

                    Many of the locals call it the “People’s Democratic Republic of Boulder” for good reason- and if you think it’s a nice place right at the moment, you’ve not stayed around in recent times long enough to see things- or you’re part of the cause of the problems there.

        3. But, if there was anarchy, then anyone could open a library, and without a certified and licensed librarian* designing it correctly!

          *Yes, that’s satire, but only just.

  7. Because Leawood is a community that cares about culture, but also about safety: “Leawood said it has received two complaints about Spencer Collins’ library.”

    Fucking cowards had to complain anonymously. I wonder why?

    You have a problem with a kid’s lending library? Go to their house and complain to their parents. Let everyone in the community know what an shitbag you are.

    1. I used to think that way, but now I think that is foolish. The reason why you have a government is to settle and prevent disputes among people. If you can’t make the complaint anonomously, you might as well go down and tell the guy to fuck off to his face. And if you have to do that, what is the point of having a government?

      Yes, I know, so would say exactly. But if you are not an anarchist, the reason you want people to be able to complain anonomously is so that the government can step in and settle disputes without it turning into a running feud among neighbors.

      You call the complainant a coward. Okay, what if this dispute involved a 55 year old woman who lived alone and her neighbors were a family of the nastiest sorts of criminal rednecks. She wants to complain about the noise they make. Yet, doing so opens her to an open confrontation with the three 250LB redneck sons one of whom just got out of prison. Is she a coward for wanting to remain anonymous? Am I a coward for wanting the same thing because I would prefer not to have to shoot one of these dumb methbilly bastards and would rather the city take care of it for me?

      1. Year ago someone on our street complained about the loud music my brothers band used to make during practice in the middle of the day. The cops came and asked them to stop = not before they stuck around listening and enjoying the music. We were always listening to music in my house. They even apologized and couldn’t understand why anyone would complain. It wasn’t that bad in their view.

        But hey.

        They never stopped practicing and the complaint never came back whoever it was. Most of our neighbors really didn’t mind mostly because A) they weren’t assholes by nature and B) they were, you know, usually working in the day.

        1. Back in the 90s when I lived in Boulder CO, I observed a crowd in front of someone’s house and went to investigate. Some guys had a half pipe in their driveway and had set up to play some music. They were pretty good too. Then a white van rolled up and a half dozen cops streamed out. Everyone scattered as the cops descended on the band, smashing their faces and instruments. As I watched one cop bash the guitar player’s face against the white van that was now red with his blood, one of the cops came up to me and told me I’d get the same treatment if I didn’t move along. So I moved along.

          And nothing else happened.

          1. That’s whacked.

          2. Why is it that the ONE person who complains gets veto power over the 40 people who are enjoying the music (or the lending library) ?

      2. John – I agree that the above is why we have some kind of police force or third-party.

        I’m just imagining the huge arsenal in the house for the little lending library and the scenario:

        “You want to take away the right of people to read Dickens? Have you ever seen what a .45 does to a human? Or six of them? Now, you go and borrow “A Christmas Carol” and think about your life, son.” *Click* “The safety’s off hombre. And take the Brontes too. Tell me what ya’ll think a’Heathcliff.”

        1. Yes. I seriously doubt complaining to your neighbor is much of a problem on the mean streets of Leewood. My point was more general in that people too easily dismiss the value of anonymous complaints.

          It is another example of Libertarians’ blind spot in thinking everyone is reasonable like they are. No. Some people suck and are totally assholes that you never want to deal with or come into contact with if you can avoid it. When dealing with such people, the ability to make an anonymous complaint to the city is a good and necessary thing.

          1. It is another example of Libertarians’ blind spot in thinking everyone is reasonable like they are.

            I’ve never heard any libertarians claim that. You’re tilting at straw men again.

          2. Or, you know, let people do with their property as they wish.

            Loud music at 3 AM? Sure, call the cops, but otherwise, what right do you have to file a complaint with the local jackboots about the hue of my siding?

            1. The problem there is with the law. It would be unjust even if you knew who complained.

              1. Really? Why does the one guy who complains get to veto the color of your siding, even though your 40 other neighbors have no problem with it.

                And nobody is even allowed to know the identity of the vetoer so they cannot be subjected to any social sanctions for being an asshole?

                Sometimes you WANT there to be social repercussions for complaining about stupid shit.

          3. That just means anonymity should be circumstantial.

        2. That native would not return.

      3. And using a 1:1000 example (poor little old lady living next to the Sons of Anarchy) to justify a system or policy that will fuck people 98 out of 100 times why we are where we are.

        1. Assuming the city is t going to fuck you, why do care who made the complaint? The only reason to know is so you can take revenge. And if the city does fuck you, that is the cities fault not the complainer. Would you feel better knowing who it was after the city fucked you? I wouldn’t. Again you just want to know so you can take revenge. Last I looked we have government so people don’t seek revenge.

          And yes we have laws to deal with the hard cases. We keep complaints anonymous for the hard case. You just will have to figure out whose house to egg on your own

          1. I care because I want all of the people in my neighborhood to know who the dick is so we can uninvite him to the neighborhood block party.

          2. Surely we must keep information out of the hands of private citizens for fear that they will go all vigilante on us!

            People can’t be trusted to settle differences over children’s book collections and the color of their siding like adults. That’s what we have government for.

      4. I can certainly see why SOME complaintsa would need to be made anonymously.

        But yes, you’re a coward if you need to complain anonymously about a 9 year old boy’s children’s book collection.

        Surely there is some way to provide for anonymous complaints about serious criminal activity where there is a threat of retaliation, but not for trivial bullshit.

        In the latter case, the anonymity allows people to basically harass other people over trivial bullshit without fear of retaliation. Which is not the intended purpose of letting people be anonymous.

  8. “Re-peel? Why are you bringing fruit into this conversation? This is about the rules!”

    Said every government stooge ever.

  9. Leawood is a community that cares about culture, but also about safety

    Exactly. I’ll bet Spencer Collins wasn’t even sanitizing those books like the Leawood Public Library does.

    1. Notice how they throw out the buzzword “safety” like it is some kind of magic spell. In reality, this case has nothing to do with safety. Yet, they use the word because they think just saying it has some kind of magic power to make everyone support the decision. Well, they said safety, so it must be the right thing.


  10. I suspect the real fear here is that it might expose children to unapproved literature.

    1. Wouldn’t CPS handle that?

      1. I’m not talking about pr0n or violins, I’m talking about “subversive” literature like Ayn Rand (thanks, IFH, above), etc.

    2. I mean, it might have Atlas Shrugged or even… The Declaration of Independents! We can’t have that!

      These guys are right in stopping this so that dangerous ideas cannot infect the minds of the young and impressionable.

      1. The Australian beat us to that, above.

    3. The content of the books is for the Ministry of Arts and Letters to discern.

      These books will be examined for any right-wing sympathies, left-wing sympathies, drug references, sexuality, dialogue, paragraphs length, anti-government sentiments, anti-public utility sentiments, video game references, pictures, modifiers of more than five letters length, color pictures, sexism, racism, placentism, and the satirical combination of any one or more of the above.

      1. “placentism”. Hawp. Now come clean my monitor.

        1. ACH! You mention word that is verboten in clean America! Have you not a single concern for the children and their mind safety!

      2. Where was the trigger warning!

  11. On the plus side, another Libertarian is born.

    1. We can only hope.

    2. To paraphrase someone (Andy Levy, I think? Maybe Stossel…): a libertarian is a liberal who’s been mugged by the gov.

  12. I’m afraid libertarians in all their cute unrealistic views are missing the point once again.

    1) We’re a nation of laws ergo they must be enforced in order to ensure equality and civilization and such. Something you people don’t understand.
    2) If you allowed one library then many more will pop up. Like weed! We can’t have that.
    3) Education is strictly through public services. Or else teachers would lose their jobs and that wouldn’t be right. And pensions and stuff.


    “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws”. -Tacitus

    1. Without government’s guns, how will the teachers be the gatekeepers to make sure children avoid subversive literature? The kind of learning that makes kids think it’s okay to lend books without government stamps of approval?

      Geez, our government betters know so much more than us idiot peasants. We think we know stuff. Phht.

  13. Land of the free, home of the brave.


  14. Because Leawood is a community that cares about culture, but also about safety: “Leawood said it has received two complaints about Spencer Collins’ library.”

    Bullshit. Liars.

  15. I don’t know what zoning district these people live in, but I think the following could accommodate the kid:

    16-4-1.3 Permitted Accessory Uses, Buildings and Structures

    The following accessory uses, buildings, and structures shall be permitted in the following districts:

    Single Family Residential Districts (RP-A5, R-1, & RP-1)

    21) Hobby or craft activities operated by the occupant only provided that articles produced or constructed are not sold on the premises;

    Full doc, see page 101: Development Ordinance.pdf

    1. And the city doesn’t ban buildings not attached to homes. The media has no idea what it is talking about as usual.

    2. That’s some good researchin’, there. Hope the family in question finds the same ordinance and sticks it up the asses of the city leaders.

  16. “We empathize with them, but we still have to follow the rules,” said Richard Coleman of the City of Leawood.

    It’s Eichmann’s all the way down.

    1. Would you prefer the State enforce rules on a whim, and only against non-preferred persons?

      If we must have a law or a regulation, enforce it.

      Enforcing it only against things that aren’t “cute” or “good”, against its text, destroys the rule of law and makes State power arbitrary.

      (And really? Eichmann?

      Stopping a cute but essentially useless micro-library building because otherwise use of power would be arbitrary is going to get compared to organizing the fucking Holocaust?)

  17. I wonder if there is any kind of PVC piping or metallic bar that can be run between the library structure and the house to “connect” them for purposes of code compliance. The government is obviously enforcing a technicality, so the homeowner should be able to get out of it on another technicality. Live by the Code, die by the Code!

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