Monday, January 07, 2008

A Fact of Life Is No Excuse for Bad Behavior

I was intrigued by this (at Freespace):
Judicial notice

"...speaking of college students generally the court observes that it is a matter of common knowledge and well established that groups of students are for the most part exuberant, boisterous, and hilarious, and that they do not ordinarily keep regular hours and are addicted to the use and abuse of vibrant and sonorous musical instruments."

City of Long Beach v. California Lambda Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, 255 Cal.App.2d 789, 796 (1967).

It seems that the City of Long Beach had enjoined fraternities from maintaining frat houses in an area that is zoned for apartment houses. Long Beach prevailed at trial; SAE appealed. Does the quoted passage evince "understanding" of the mores of frat boys? It could be read that way.

I was gratified to learn, via FindLaw (free registration required), that the appellate court upheld the judgment of the trial court,
which, in effect, declared that defendants (fraternity houses) be enjoined from occupying, maintaining and using certain described properties in an "R-4" zone unless a variance or exception to the zoning ordinance of Long Beach be obtained.

The City of Long Beach brought an action to enjoin the named fraternities from continuing to use and occupy described premises as fraternity houses. The described premises are located in what is generally known as the "R-4" apartment house district under the Long Beach comprehensive zoning ordinance....

The ordinance in this instance is a valid and proper exercise of the police power, the city council properly and legally exercised its discretion in restricting fraternity houses in an "R-4" zone.
If the City of Long Beach sought to enforce the ordinance against the fraternity because of the behavior of the frat boys, so much the better. Statutory law should, if nothing else, preserve the norms of civilized behavior. Frat rats* are, in my experience, decidedly uncivilized -- as noted by the court.
* "Frat rat" was, in my long-ago days as a college student, a derogatory term for fraternity members. (Perhaps it's still in use; see no. 3, here.) GDIs (Gosh Darned Independents), such as I was, used the term advisedly, having heard, seen, and endured more than enough of the rude, crude, and lewd doings of frat boys.