Public enemies

Birdbaths are bad for you, reports the New York Times, citing a recent summons issued by the New York City Health Department to a property owner in Queens:

Titled “vector control inspection work order,” the citation accused [the owner] of violating what appeared to be a paradoxical imperative: “standing water” in a birdbath. The violation of Article 151 of the city’s health code could subject him to a $2,000 fine.

They’re not kidding.  It’s not a mistake, or a bureaucratic foul-up.  It’s the law:

Actually, a regulation against stagnant water has been on the books for more than a decade, but in the battle against West Nile virus, the health code was amended last year. It explicitly made landlords liable and applied the rule, apparently more broadly, to “standing water” rather than “stagnant water” and further empowered the department not only to prevent “the breeding or harborage” of mosquitoes, but also to prevent “conditions conducive” to their breeding or harborage.

However, the Times perspicaciously notes:

Even an ordinary puddle can lead to a violation. …During mosquito-breeding season, from April to October, standing water on the ground, in roof gutters, on swimming pool covers and in discarded tires, among other places, can violate Article 151, which covers pest prevention and management. Health officials said the 699 summonses issued last year was about average.

Sigh.   We may be losing the wars on poverty, drugs and terrorism, but we are beating the living piss out of songbirds.  “No soup for you!”