Some commenters below raised questions about various aspects of the law in Black Jack. I had not read the law, and my comments had to do somewhat superficially with the actual case. I was more concerned with Black Jack’s definition of family. Here’s the actual definition from their Code of Ordinances: “Family. An individual or two (2) or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption, or a group of not more than three (3) persons who need not be related by blood, marriage or adoption, living together as a single non-profit housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit.” The purposes of Article V of the Code of Ordinances on Housing are described as:
The general purpose of this article is to protect the public health, safety, comfort and the general welfare of the people of the city. These general objectives include, among others, the following specific purposes:
(1) To protect the character and stability of residential areas within the city.
(2) To provide minimum standards necessary to the health and safety of occupants of buildings.
(3) To provide facilities for light and ventilation, necessary to health and safety.
(4) To prevent additions or alterations to existing dwellings that would be injurious to the life, health, safety or general welfare of the occupants of such dwellings or neighboring properties.
(5) To prevent the overcrowding of dwellings by providing minimum space standards per occupant of each dwelling unit.
(6) To provide minimum standards for the maintenance of existing residential buildings, and to thus prohibit the spread of slums and blight.
(7) To thus preserve the taxable value of land and buildings throughout the city.
Despite my beliefs about what a family is and is not, is the current case really about the definition of family or about overcrowding? If it is about overcrowding, perhaps they need to amend the law so that it has requirements about square-footage per person (which they have; just not for unmarried or unrelated people), rather than a simple number of people. Then again, the above statements show that this is really about both family and space, and it is hard to disentangle them.
All I’m really saying is that valid points have been raised about the propriety of the law, but those points generally coalesce with a person’s definition of “family.” In other words, I may be willing to concede from the perspective of the law, but not from the perspective of what makes a family.