Criminalizing Your Neighbors

About the Video

Local laws should not restrict a person’s use of their own property if there is no nuisance to nearby neighbors.

The term “big government” typically invokes images of Congress or the Legislature, but it is likewise applicable, in many ways, to laws that affect our lives in a far more direct manner, at a local level.

While local ordinances are typically intended to foster a better environment for all residents, they often neglect the rights of the individual—especially when using arbitrary restrictions on people’s use of their own property.

Featured Interviews

Jennifer Ford:

“If my neighbors don’t care… if my goat is not bothering anyone, if it’s not making noise, if it’s not biting anyone, they don’t even notice that it’s here… why does the city care?”

Jennifer Ford
Utah Homeowner

Jennifer Pate:

“If I was sewing for people for fun, the city would leave me alone. But as soon as I start making money at it or start earning something for my talents and skills, they want their piece.”

Jennifer Pate
Home Business Owner

Stephen and Karina Palmer:

“Just because something is a law, doesn’t mean that it’s right.”

Stephen and Karina Palmer
Utah Homeowners

Steve Burton:

“What are we doing in society by trying to make everything criminal? It just doesn’t make sense. Especially things that should be solved just by one person talking to another.”

Steve Burton
Defense Attorney, Former City Prosecutor

Tim Roper:

“As you look at your neighbors and their property rights and what you are doing on your property, if it’s not a nuisance—if it’s not causing a public health safety issue—then you should be able to do what you want on that property.”

Tim Roper
City Councilman

Why Restrict Local Ordinances?


Utahns who fail to manage their property as required by their local municipality—for example, watering the lawn—might face fines and criminal charges. Rather than pursuing these penalties, localities should first do what they can do abate the problem.

Reasonable Regulation

No one should be criminalized for minor property violations that didn’t even bother nearby neighbors. While actual problems should be addressed, local governments should not enforce arbitrary regulations unless the activity has harmed nearby residents.


To maintain the spirit of this state’s motto “industry,” local governments must allow residents to prosper without burdensome laws. Utahns should be able to operate a business in the home unless their activity creates a nuisance that violates a neighbor’s rights.

Property Rights

Utahns have the right to live freely so long as they don’t violate others’ rights. Yet, many local government overstep their power by regulating the private property of their residents. These regulations often go too far and need to be re-evaluated before enforcement.

Animal Ownership

Whether it’s to provide food or companionship, keeping an animal is something many Utahns do on their property. Utahns should not be penalized for the amount or type of animals they own if neighbors are not bothered by them and they aren’t causing a nuisance.


Many Utahns supplement their income by renting out unused space in their homes on a short-term basis to travelers. Many municipalities across the state have unfairly banned these rentals, even when the host and their guests aren’t negatively affecting neighbors.