In late May, property owners in Cedar Falls, Iowa had their city government vote (6 to 1) in the second of three votes (the third vote will be held on Monday) to force owners to place lock boxes on their property giving the Fire Department access.
The lock boxes are located on the outside of a building, and keys to gain entry are located inside the safe-like box. The fire department keeps a master key and can use it to gain entry when an alarm goes off or during a fire.
The ordinance saw little resistance when it was first adopted in 2004 and had only Councilman Nick Taiber argue against the update when the first reading passed two weeks ago.
But on Monday, Taiber was joined by five citizens who protested the lock box provisions, saying it was an expense government was forcing on property owners and an invasion of privacy.
Kyle Baker cited quotes from Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in questioning whether ease of acccess should be worth the loss of freedom for property owners.
While a version of the ordinance passed in 2004, it required the boxes for commercial buildings and apartment buildings with six or more units. The new ordinance now would require lock boxes for buildings with three or more apartments.
While the council members tried to allay concerns that they keys could not be abused or stolen and that it is not intended for private homes (except for the renters of apartments, that is), property owners were vocalized their displeasure.
Here is a video of the council meeting:
If the measure passes on Monday, it will become law and Cedar Falls will be a little more safe–and a little less free.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776