A city in Texas has adopted a change in its home business law, but the Institute for Justice charges that it still fails to address the problem that came up when a daycare was told to close because the former mayor complained could see the children playing in a yard.
According to the IJ, officials on the Lakeway City Council have adopted a new home business law, following a lawsuit from home daycare provider Bianca King.
“While the new law does make some improvements, the reforms do not go far enough for IJ to drop the lawsuit,” the IJ noted.
The new provisions give individuals looking to start most types of home businesses a procedure to follow, although businesses such as dog groomers and dance lessons still are arbitrarily banned.
“Additionally, the city council created a new set of arbitrary restrictions just for home day care providers, with the goal of ‘controlling’ those who open home day care businesses,” the IJ explained. “Home day care providers would need to apply for an additional ‘special use permit,’ which would involve hearings in front of both the Zoning and Planning Commission and Lakeway City Council.”
The problem there, however, is that ultimately the decision on allowing the business or not “would be left entirely to the city’s discretion, rather than a clear set of guidelines.”
“This new law is certainly better than Lakeway’s old one, which effectively banned all home businesses, but it still leaves a lot to be desired,” said IJ attorney Erica Smith Ewing. “This law gives the city far too much discretion to decide which businesses they want to allow, and it does not provide any guidance for would-be entrepreneurs.”
The legal team explained King now will apply for a permit, “so she can officially be permitted to run her business, but under this law there’s no guarantee she’ll be permitted.”
In March of this year, Bianca reached an agreement with the city to allow her home day care to operate while her lawsuit against the city is pending. The IJ said the changes by the city do not go far enough for her legal case to be dropped.
“I’m hopeful they will approve my application this time around; however, the rigorous process they’ve created discourages people like me from pursuing their passion of caring for children,” Bianca said.
WND reported earlier this year when the case was filed that King’s daycare was ordered to shut down because a former mayor complained he could see children while he was golfing on a course adjacent to a housing subdivision.
“If Bianca were babysitting her friends’ and neighbors’ kids for free, the city couldn’t do anything to stop her. There’s no reason they should be able to shut her down simply because she makes a living doing so,” Ewing explained at the time.
The case involves King, a single mom of two young children. She lost her job during COVID, and started a daycare for her own children, ages 2 and 4, and several children living in her neighborhood.
But the IJ explained, “On Feb. 9, city officials – citing concerns of a group of nearby golfers (including former Mayor Joe Bain) that they could hear and see children playing in her backyard – shut her down.”
When the dispute developed, Bain testified to the city against allowing King to care for children, complaining, “that toys were ‘fully visible from the golf course’ and that the sounds of children was interfering with his golf game,” the IJ reported.
King’s yard backs up to the tee box at the 8th hole.