Do you ever...let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk to school? Make dinner? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free-Range Kid! Free-Rangers believe in helmets, car seats, seat belts safety! We just do NOT believe that every time school age kids go outside, they need a security detail. Share your stories, tell your tips and maybe I'll use them in a new book. Here's to common sense parenting in uncommonly overprotective times!
I hope this kid convinces the authorities. I know exactly what he meant by “30 kids swarming”. Back in my day, tire swings were common. And it was always certain that there would be a line up to take turns on them. Sometimes, there would be about 3 or 4 of us on it at one time, swinging in tandem to see how high we could get it. Or ride in the hole and get spun like a top until we screamed to stop, because we were going to puke. lol Oh the gold ol’days.
At least in this case it’s a zoning law instead of a vague plea about safety. There’s almost always a way to apply for a variance to a zoning law, especially if there’s wide support in the neighborhood. However, it unlikely it’ll be allowed without someone feeding the bureaucracy the proper paperwork.
I hope it works out for him. In our old neighborhood there was a big empty field with a usually dry creek bed. That had a rope swing over it, which was very popular with those few who knew about it. Someone cut it down once, but within days a new one was up. So much fun.
I really hope they let him keep the swing up. Especially since teenagers now get kicked out of elementary school playgrounds! I remember going to ride the swings on the playground after school when I was in high school, and even in college! Nowadays they put up signs that they don’t want anyone over the age of 12 on the equipment! Swings are fun for everyone, and this is the kind of good, old-fashioned activity that keeps kids out of trouble!
My best friend had a tireswing, it might still be in her parents back yard (yeah, private property may be a different story here) and we had the best time on that swing! We played the greatest games-it was a swing, it was a portal to an underwater island where we could talk and breathe (as opposed to holding out breath while ‘swimming’ through the yard to get to it), it was a hiding place for special notes and trinkets…i hope they get to keep it!
I had a tire swing in my back yard when I was a kid, and one time (gasp!) the worst happened–the rope snapped and I went down on my back. Did it hurt? You bet, and my friends laughed like hell. But I got up, regained my breath, and helped them find a stronger rope.
I know this is an issue of zoning rather than safety per se, but I’m sure safety will be considered in the final decision. I just hope those who make the decision are able to realize that this swing is a low-risk way to get neighborhood kids outside and plaing together, which benefits everyone.
Maybe this young man could collect petition signatures from the parents to make an exception to the rule.
We live in a little town, and had lots of tire swings. My kids all have them for their kids.
What foolishness with the ‘adults’!
“The swing is, in fact, a violation of the Neighborhood Code Compliance. Per San Diego Municipal code, no object (structure, basketball hoop, etc.) is to be placed in the public right-of-way.”
What does that even mean?
That’s what I wondered too. It’s not blocking a sidewalk, so how is it in the “right-of way”?
When my parents bought a new house a year ago, the thing I was most excited about was the tyre swing! I take my boys (2 and 4) over there, and we all have a blast! They sit inside it, I stand on it, and we swing to our hearts content!!!
I live in Monterey County, and am pretty familiar with Carmel. Carmel is notorious for wierd laws. Until 1986 there was a law that no ice cream could be sold or eaten on the streets/sidewalks.
This is a very affluent, touristy area. The tire swing thing is probably just as much about keeping the city “clean & attractive” as the ice cream law was. It’s not about the kids; they’re just wierd over there – lol!
Several cities have “weird” codes added to the existing building code. Unfortunately, I can see the citys’ view on this. In my line of work as a home inspector, I am constantly thinking about “Liability issues” and the ramifications of certain items.
It is all well and good until someone injures themselves. Now we have a massive lawsuit, and the city has to protect itself from the sue-happy lawyers.
We had several rope swings, tire swings and just about any other type of swing, throughout our neighborhood. Unfortunately, times have changed. Sad for the kids.
In fairness, nothing in the article says it’s about danger. “Public right of way” is cited. That doesn’t seem to be great reasoning, but I think it’s a leap to make this yet another example of fear. I realize Jack says something about liability in the article, but it’s not clear where he’s getting that from.
I’d rather this be a case of zoning which it may be the case rather than some vague law on child safety. But, if this is solely on private property of the kid’s family’s home, what’s the big deal. A sufficient solution is what the kid would be willing to do, put up a sign saying “swing at your own risk. The city and residence of this swing is not responsible or liable for possible injuries as a result of this tire swing.”
Yeah, sounds very very “California-ish”. Actually, when i read the story my first thought was: Wait?!, is this California or New Jersey? (My state). I can guarantee, If you ran a poll in NJ on whether “there ought to be a law”, the “prohibitions” from my beloved “People’s Socialist Republic of NJ” (PSRNJ), they would overwhelmingly support the Ban/Ordnance. Everyone one of our laws ends with “For the Children”.
One other thing I remembered, some insurance companies may not cover any accident resulting on a “non-compliant” rated swing.
That would be a hefty burden for a family to pay if someone were injured seriously. Perhaps the swing could be relocated.
As I said in my previous post it is sad that things have come to this. Back when I grew up, issues like this and others got resolved, without the intervention of the local government.I doubt this issue would have ever come up.
@Christy I can’t speak to San Diego, but I know in my town there is an easement on (e.g.) each side of the road that is a part of the public-right-of-way. Thus I don’t really own the first 6 (?) foot wide strip of my front lawn — the town does. If I wanted to put up a fence that ran all the way out to the very edge of the road, for example, I wouldn’t be allowed to (that happens to make good sense in my neighborhood which has narrow roads and no sidewalks, so pedestrians sometimes have to come onto lawns to get out of the way of traffic).
I think the regulations vary from place to place, but the concept is one defined in our legal system and for the reasons I describe, so it’s not inherently nutty, whether or not the application makes sense in this case.
This is an issue to do with public zoning laws, and nothing to do with free-range parenting. Why is it here?
Those laws exist for a reason – namely so that people can’t use paths and sidewalks as their own personal space. Imagine the kind of crap you could find people setting up there if you let them; basketball hoops, chairs and tables, free-standing aerials… Then imagine how difficult it would be to work around that sort of thing if you were elderly or mobility impaired.
Unfortunately, the space that the kid used to set up his swing counts as path, and hence, he shouldn’t use that space.
May I suggest the nearest park or area around (NOT on) a sporting ground?
I am not at all a fan of tire swings. 31 years ago I was permanently blinded in one eye while swinging on a tire swing.
I think they should all be outlawed!
Our neighbor had this fabulous rope swing in their back yard that swung out of a ditch…we spent hours playing with on that rope swing. We delighted in taking new friends to play on it. It never occurred to us, that if we got hurt it wasn’t our fault. If we got hurt we knew full well it because we were probably doing something we shouldn’t have.
I think it a great idea and hope he gets to keep his tire swing
I’m willing to bet the rent that most of the city council members stay out of cellars just in case an axe might fall on their head.
Thanks Sera & Carrie — I knew you’d be out… “the takers”. The worriers. Sera, I think you “imagine” too much. But, your response is typical (unfortunately), the ‘ol “WE NEED A LAW” — Even tho, I can almost guarantee, if your “case” was legit, that kid would gladly move the swing. And, can you “imagine” a world where we didn’t need a law for ever “potential what-if” you could dream up? just imagine??!!??! It would be like living in a free country. Ain’t liberty and responsibility a scary thing?
And Carrie — Your story is a terrible shame, I’m truly sorry for your experience. I’m confident you’re have gained resolve that others will never know. Be proud for that. And, unfortunately, life is messy — and we can’t outlaw everything and put rubble bumpers around every corner to “make sure THAT never happens again”.
I had a German Shepherd almost take my face off when I was 6. I remember vividly, It was 90+ degrees and full sun (no shelter), he was in obvious distress, and chained to a garage down (neighbor’s house). I thought it would be nice if i went up and gave him a BIG HUG to make him feel better (the lover that I am). He responded much differently than expected — and following my trip to the emergency room — and two days in the Hosp — I have an obvious scare to remind me of the bad decision.
I suppose I should have a cause or something, right? Should I be advocating that Germ. Shepherds should be outlawed as dangerous? Should I advocate that ppl with GS’s pay higher insurance? Or how about a law prohibiting children to kept away from them? “THE FACT” is, that could also happen to my kids — and no law will save them. I don’t feel dogs around my children, I don’t advocate any “prohibition” because of my exp. —- and, I own a dog. This is life, and regardless of the fuzzy math they try to show you, these experiences (yours and mine) are far from COMMON. They are rare. Remember that. And be bigger than your worst fear. Be stronger than your worst experience — some lessons is life are just “learned” — and some are really not good. If you want advocate something, advocate trying to avoid the fatal 2% (of lessons). (Notice I didn’t say, get a law passed…).
While I disagree with Sera’s “What if’s” and justifications for making him take it down, I think she’s right that this isn’t about Free Range parenting, or about safety or fear. It’s about a zoning law that may be excessive and may need to be changed, but there’s nothing in the story that indicates it’s about safety, let alone “terror” — and evidence against the idea that it’s about overprotective parenting, because it’s local officials who are pursuing it from a legal standpoint, not fearful parents objecting from a safety standpoint.
Having said that, it’s Lenore’s blog and she can post things that concern her. I’m just offering my perspective on what’s at work here.
@Tango – I think you’re trying to be inflammatory, or something.
All laws exist for a reason – this does not preclude that reason being stupid, but there’s always a reason. I simply state that the law exists, and that I feel that there is a reasonable excuse for the law to exist.
The fact remains that this is the real world and the lowest common denominator is not as responsible and civic-minded as it needs to be for society to work without a lot of laws around. Yes, this particular case is harmless and fun for the community – but the law is the law and the law needs to be enforced the same for everybody, not on a case by case basis.
The fact remains that having this swing up is against the law and needs to not be where it is. Like I said, it should be put somewhere else. Somewhere legal.
This is not a case of overprotective nanny state making every little thing into a legal nightmare, it is simply a case of a law that has been put in place to make sure nobody abuses public property for their own gain.
More than the issue of free-ranging kids, I think the story above reflects on how the Iron cage of burocracy (as described by Weber) is penetrating all areas of our lives, strangling any common sense in its course.
There are ways of limiting the most idiotic aspects of local bylaws, but in order to do that, the whole burocratic structure has to be revamped. (And all those who feel empowered by applying laws in a senseless way taken off their pedestal – something they’ll most likely resist).
(sorry about being pedantic – I’m a recovering sociologist)
As the ex son-in-law of a city inspector, I can tell you the enforcement of obscure city zoning laws is very arbitrary. The city is more worried about getting sued by some parent whose brat falls off and konks his/her head. We all know thats why playgrounds of today are missing the wonderful things like the vomit-inducing merry-go-round. (As an aside I recently visited a park I visited often as a kid, no merry-go-round, no jungle gym, and no tall metal slides )
This is a zoning issue, pure and simple. The same law that says you can’t hang swings on trees in public areas also says you can’t just randomly put a bball hoop at the end of any old street or on a sidewalk and use it as your private court. In these cases, you can’t have judgment calls by city workers; people would be constantly suing for their right to put their own stuff in public parks and such.
There was a tire swing out here that went out over and into the lake that was there for years.
Until someone got hurt.
Then the enraged father not only cut the swing down, but the tree it was attached to as well as several others so that nothing else could be attached.
One injury and fun was destroyed for hundreds of kids.
It’s about free range because kids are playing outside because of the swing.
Agree with bequirox!
It’s a free range issue to me… whatever the reasons behind limiting the normal free play of children (ie. things that had been done for years and years, and now are being squelched–swinging, sliding, sledding, snow play, you name it).
For example, I live in a community with almost no sidewalks. What’s the reason behind that? Most likely it was a cost-saving measure. Not a fear thing. But the definite result has been a lack of ability for my daughter (now 9) to walk where she would like to go. I would call it a free range issue, no matter the reason behind it.
Looking at the picture with the article, I fail to see how the tire swing is blocking a “right-of-way”. It’s not like it’s in the middle of a path or something. The underlying reason likely has to do with litigation fears.
If, as mentioned by a different poster, it’s more about not wanting the place littered up with stuff, well, I think if the swing was “swamed” by 20 or 30 kids, then the neighbourhood has voted with its feet. What, the only fun can be installed by the government? Bah.
Sorry, but some of you are just wrong. Free Range shouldn’t mean you can do whatever you want and ignore local zoning laws. Some of you should put your efforts toward reforming tort laws and reminding some of your litigation happy neighbors that cities are forced to be this heavy handed. It’s not the fault of the governments..it’s the fault of stupid people who sue when one of their kids falls off the tire swing.
And the lady who lives in a neighborhood with no sidewalks? Why did you move there in the first place? I suppose it’s the government’s job to install walking paths so your kid can be free range? Can’t have it both ways.
This makes me glad I live in the woods (I still do, haven’t had to move, yah!) where basically YOU are the law.
To wit: almost since the first day we moved there, we’ve had a very “free range” tire swing. I found it a landfill actually, off to the side in good shape, they let me have it for free. It swings far & wide, much more than the ones I’ve seen at parks, yet it hangs horizontally to where kids can just sit down. My 2 kids & 3 nephews love that thing.
No lawsuit fears, just fun.
“Kokopuff” no one is saying free range means lawless recklessness. It’s about being able to enjoy childhood & not spend half your time making sure you’re not violating some petty ordinance. And I disagree that cities had no choice to do what they did due to lawsuits. They could’ve taken a stand, the judges could’ve ruled against the ones filing the suits. Instead the cave, when they could’ve put their foot down. They only make ordinances-laws because it’s the easy way out.
I have to agree with those arguments about the injuries and the ‘zoning’ laws.
35 years ago we all swung on a tire swing that was connected to a huge tree on a vacant lot.
One day as I was flying high and another kid was hanging onto the knot under the tire, the other kid’s hand slipped, gravity claimed him and we all heard the hideous snap of his breaking arm when he impacted with the concrete driveway.
We all got to see his arm bending in a place none of us had ever seen before. We all also got to see what a real cast looks like. And we all got to see how the kid was perfectly fine after the cast came off.
We still used the swing, but we sure hung on better after that. In fact, we all still climbed the trees and the bridges and stuff all over the neighborhood but we all remembered the kid and we hung on extra tight.
If we hadn’t seen this kid’s arm break, we wouldn’t have learned to hang the heck on when we were swinging, and more of us probably would have been more seriously injured, or even killed later on when we did dangerous things, thereby reducing the need for protective services. This would reduce the load on such people and they could be even more free to harass and annoy people and limit the opportunities for the next generation of kids to learn some much needed life lessons.
I mean, there’s just so much danger out there that it’s really hard to keep up with making life safe for all the little children of the world. The job is just never done, you know, and if these kids keep healing up or surviving, there will soon be just too many of them to protect.
As for the ‘zoning laws.’ Pffft! If you have any sense, and I mean, *any* sense, you know, from experience, that most zoning laws are completely idiotic.
For instance, my hometown has a ‘zoning’ law that yard fences must be four feet from the public sidewalk. That meant that our yard would effectively be reduced to about six feet from our house. The ‘reason?’ Someone might slip on the icy sidewalk and hit their head on a fence post.
While I remember most of the sixties (I was a late starter) once I tuned in I realized that there are just too many idiotic laws and too many idiotic people only too willing to completely eradicate any fun anyone, anywhere, might ever experience. And now it’s a profitable industry that lurks under the rubric of ‘safety.’
Lighten up, dudes, and let the kids swing. Who knows, you may even inspire some little Foucault to discover the basic laws of motion, and gravity.
A little play, a little learning, and a lot of fun.
What’s to not like?