The little free library was caught in a crackdown on unpermitted objects that interfere with public ways, according to the Wall Street Jounal.
A couple in San Francisco was told to remove an obstruction from the sidewalk in front of their house, or pay a $1,402 fine. The city's target: a little free library.
The library is part of a crackdown in San Francisco on unpermitted objects that interfere with public ways, the Wall Street Journal reported. The city has a hotline for anonymous tips about the obstructions, which include decades-old awnings on businesses in the city's Chinatown district, and benches constructed by residents for the convenience of passersby.
The library, a sturdy wooden box that sits on a statue and resembles a dollhouse, is owned by Susan and Joe Meyers.
According to the Journal, local officials have little choice but to act when a complaint is filed through the hotline.
"The fact that we live in a city where they would rather fight someone that is doing something positive is what I find so disheartening," Geoff Claus, a neighbor living near the little library, told the Journal.
The library is popular in the Meyers' neighborhood, the Journal reported. Many on social media even staged a campaign to save it, resulting in letters to the city from residents; one from a young girl begged, "Plees do not dustroy Joe & Susan's Libary," per the Journal.
A city official responded, per the Journal: "Our office could not agree more. This is a favorite spot of many of your neighbors and we will do everything we can to make sure it stays in place for you and others to enjoy for years to come."
Others targeted recently in the unpermitted objects crackdown include a 79-year-old laundromat owner, whose awning apparently drew a call to the city's hotline that prompted an official call to Lee.
"They asked if I had a permit for the sign," Bill Lee told the Journal. "I said, 'How do I know, it's been over 40 years?"
The Meyers could get a permit to keep their library for $1,402, but ultimately decided instead to work to change the system. As a result, city officials are considering cheaper permits — around $5, according to the Journal — for similar free libraries, and benches.
The Meyers' library is still standing, the Journal reported, as the city sorts out new rules for the small box and many like it.
In the end, Susan Meyers told the Journal the original hotline complaint may have been a catalyst for the city to rethink its regulations.
"Maybe we should thank that person," she told the Journal.