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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Emeril Lagasse, Sept/Oct 2005

(continued from page 2)

I live in the village of Woodbridge, a planned community in Irvine, California. Woodbridge has about 42 parks and pools available to our 30,000 residents. These parks and pool facilities are all privately owned and maintained by us. As a homeowner, I have a deeded interest in all the common-area holdings; thus, unlike public lands owned by the city, I have a private property interest in these "community" facilities.

Just recently our Board of Directors passed a ban on all smoking in any and all of these facilities! My routine for the past 25 years has been to go to the local Jacuzzi late at night to unwind in the hot tub while smoking a cigar. This particular facility has always been 24-hour and restricted to adults only (many others exist for families), and late at night it is usually vacant. This facility is outdoors, with the nearest neighbor either across a street or across a park; at least 50 to 75 yards away in any direction. Yes, that's right, an outdoor facility, 75 yards away from the nearest neighbor, restricted to only adults, and in which I have a private property interest in, yet now I am no longer allowed to smoke a cigar!

Twenty-five years ago, the community rules were already published, I purchased my property understanding such rules, and everyone else who has purchased since then also has been made aware of the rules. So how can the politically correct pinheads now come along and change them, imposing new restrictions, when they affect the use of my private property? To ban smoking in public city parks is bad enough, but this is an ex post facto deprivation of my private property rights! Haven't we fought in wars with other countries over confiscating private citizens' property?

This issue had been brought up in a November board meeting, remanded to committee, which responded to the board that the issue should be dropped as there was no need for it. Yet the board on its own initiative then voted to pass the ban in February, ostensibly in the interest of the community. Yet at that meeting, nobody was in attendance supporting the ban! A couple of us were there opposing it, but nobody in support of it. No discussion of reasons took place, no facts or figures presented to support a ban, just a comment that "several e-mails" were received supporting it. No other support. So this kangaroo court of a board meeting has now been able to shackle my freedom of enjoying my private property. (OK, this presumes compliance...yeah, right!) Do you have any suggestions on where I can go to vent my anger or possibly even challenge the board's ability to have made such a ban? When is enough, enough already?

Jim Peebles
Irvine, California

Editor's note: Short of hiring a lawyer, you could reach out to your neighbors with a petition demanding another public hearing on the matter. Call your local newspaper. Ask how to write an Op-Ed piece about the unilateral confiscation of your personal property rights. Those are just two suggestions. You have a strong point. Make it publicly.

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