Though it may sound odd coming from the sleepy San Gabriel Valley, democracy seems willing to enlist just a little "fascism" to prevent the deteriorating "history and reputation" of local real estate ("Front yard faux pas," Times, Sept. 16), and contrary to the remark by Director Rick Cole ("Hopefully, we're not talking about crabgrass fascism here"), the property maintenance ordinances being deliberated by Pasadena city officials are the vehicles for this lively yet oppressive authoritarianism.
The informative article written by Vicki Torres delivers a vivid image of "clothes drying (outside), cars on blocks, broken-down sofas, abandoned refrigerators and busted steps" scattered throughout Pasadena. Wow! That's enough filth to DEMAND city authorities use "health, safety and land-use codes" (which are already on the books) to purge the city. But Deputy City Atty. Carolyn Williams takes cover in a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court decision which, in her words, grants cities authority over the "spiritual" and "aesthetic" behavior of citizens--areas in which only a despot can have an interest.
Can't we lighten up a little? We know there are already laws in effect to handle forbidden trash; we've heard a serious official question the term "fascism," and in Torres' article it's admitted, "judges are often reluctant to levy heavy fines and penalties. . . ." With "conform or go to jail," how deeply do we nick our faith in the future of private property? Dare we prefer architectural bragging rights over the established principles of government? Without dipping into fascism, can we legislate the spiritual and aesthetic?
EDWARD T. BAGLEY