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posted by LaminatorX on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the This-sounds-like-a-job-for-Florida-Man dept.

Xerxes writes:

"A Florida woman who has been living off the grid has had her home declared 'Unsanitary' and has until March to connect her off-the-grid home to the city water system, or face eviction."

[ED Note: Ordinances such as this are not uncommon. My own father once had a property condemned on this basis while he was in the midst of a billing dispute with a utility.]

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by evilviper on Thursday February 27 2014, @10:01AM

    by evilviper (1760) on Thursday February 27 2014, @10:01AM (#7876) Homepage Journal

    Are there any FAIR and detailed news story about this situation, anywhere? This sounds like an interesting story, but the Al Jazeera BLOG link is worthless, and the OffTheGrid link is obviously heavily biased, and severely lacking in detail about the situation.

    We're certainly missing the part about her using the sewer without paying:

    "This resident provided testimony at the code compliance hearing that she has been living in the home for the past year and using the city’s wastewater system without paying for the service,†said Connie Barron, spokeswoman for the city of Cape Coral. “She also gave clear indications she does not intend to pay for this service but intends to continue to use the system."
    * http://www.examiner.com/article/florida-woman-livi ng-off-the-grid-has-sewer-capped-gets-pressure-to- plug-in [examiner.com]

    And the city at least claims not to be the brainless ogres they're portrayed as:

    "...municipalities don’t have the power to evict,†...the city clarified that these officials only posted the notice because they wanted access to her home in order to provide Speronis with suggestions on how she could live off the grid safely.
    * http://guardianlv.com/2014/02/florida-woman-ordere d-to-live-on-the-grid/ [guardianlv.com]

    What else are we missing? Probably a lot.

    "Off the grid" living in a dense, urban area is a tricky subject, at least for reasonable people. It should always be legal to go without grid electricity, gas, phone, cable, etc., so long as you've got viable alternatives. But as a society, we don't really want people having camp fires in the middle of their living rooms for heat and light, both for human safety and air pollution concerns.

    However, things like water, sewage, and similar, aren't ever really "off-grid". If you're pumping water from a well, you are depleting aquifers. Around here, the water district is buying imported water, and using it to *recharge* those aquifers, to prevent water levels falling. At that point, are you really living off-grid, or are you just adding an extra and very expensive step (on both sides) to municipal water delivery?

    Septic systems, as well, need a LOT of land, beyond the leech field, to disperse all the fluid pumped in. If you don't have a large empty lot, you're using your neighbor's (or the city's) sub-soil to dump your waste. And in areas where there's a high water table, your untreated sewage may be directly polluting nearby wells, perhaps of your neighbors, but more likely one of the muni's major water sources.

    In those situations, which are exacerbated by population density, being "off the grid" may simply mean being the single sociopath in the prisioner's dilemma [wikipedia.org]... getting excessive benefits from your neighbors NOT doing the same thing as you.

    --
    Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
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  • (Score: 1) by CowboyTeal on Friday February 28 2014, @04:42AM

    by CowboyTeal (15) on Friday February 28 2014, @04:42AM (#8275)

    I get what you're saying, and I agree with most of what you said but I disagree with the part that you said people shouldn't live with a stove in their living room. Why not? You say for safety and air pollution but safety is not something that should always be regulated by the government. If people die from their stupidity, then let them. There exists Darwin awards for a reason, but for the first 5 or 6 years of my life I grew up in a house that was centrally heated by a wood stove. The house didn't catch on fire and no one burned to death, although I did touch it once while it was hot without knowing and it hurt like hell (but healed a few weeks later). But this is slightly getting off topic...

    You mention septic systems and those work great. You don't need to get those pumped out for 15, maybe 20 years and most people that do live "off the grid" tend to live away from city limits since no matter what they will not be sharing city plumbing.

    You also mentioned that living without electricity (oh this is funny, my electricity just went out, hurray for laptops!) is something of a necessity. I beg to differ, it's a necessity for those that want to watch TV, have a modern refrigerator, and use computers but you can easily get by just fine without it. In fact, go without electricity for a weekend and see how much better it is to not hear the humming of the refrigerator, the high pitch of electronics, and cuddle-worthy lighting. Of course, my way of life depends on electricity so I can't cut it out permanently but whenever the electricity cuts off, I feel at peace unless I'm 5 minutes before a deadline.

    I suppose that living the fast life for a decade made me realize how much love-hate I have for electricity/technology so I'd be content living off the grid until I run out of things to do, which I'm sure is easy to do after a few weeks. Come to think of it, it's no wonder that people just kept getting kids back in the day prior electricity. They were bored to death and needed to raise kids to kill the boredom. lol Historians be damned!

    --
    Getting siggy with it.
    • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Friday February 28 2014, @05:54AM

      by evilviper (1760) on Friday February 28 2014, @05:54AM (#8310) Homepage Journal

      The complaints in your reply seem to entirely consist of misunderstanding what I wrote.

      I disagree with the part that you said people shouldn't live with a stove in their living room.

      No, I said "camp fires in the middle of their living rooms for heat and light". A (modern) wood stove is great for heating. A fireplace is lousy for heating. And both are lousy for lighting. But neither is as lousy, nor nearly as dangerous, as "camp fires".

      If people die from their stupidity, then let them.

      Building codes exist specifically to prevent this, so you can't complain when they correctly do so. Personally, I'm a fan of not dying. You assume only the incredibly stupid will kill themselves, but without regulations, product and construction fraud will take off and keep getting more sophisticated. The level of intelligence and pure effort necessary to prevent getting ripped-off and/or killed will continue to grow ever higher, as there's always more money to be made in hurting people.

      most people that do live "off the grid" tend to live away from city limits

      And I was very specifically talking about off-grid living in very dense cities, since that's the topic at hand. Yes, a good septic system on plenty of land, in an area with a low water table, works great.

      You also mentioned that living without electricity (oh this is funny, my electricity just went out, hurray for laptops!) is something of a necessity.

      Electricity is so much VASTLY more efficient at providing artificial lighting than any other way to do so (not to mention vastly safer), that I don't consider any other methods a viable option. A pretty small solar panel and battery is all you need for a LOT of light. Once you've got that... well, a radio consumes minuscule amounts of power, so I'd opt for one.

      go without electricity for a weekend and see how much better it is to not hear the humming of the refrigerator

      Not long enough... You'd just run down a few batteries, and not realize the expense and difficulty of doing that, long-term.

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.