The roller-coaster tracks I installed in my Northeast backyard extend slightly over my neighbor's property. He's asking whether I have permits. Does my neighbor "own" the airspace above his house? What permits is he talking about?

—Richard M., Portland

Clearly, you were one of those children who sat in the back seat of the car poking his sister while insisting that, since his ass hasn't crossed the car's center line, he isn't really "on" her side.

In answer to your question: briefly, you're hosed.

Slightly less briefly: You're hosed because you're an idiot. According to the city Planning and Zoning Commission, the entire structure of world property rights exists mostly to prevent your doing what you just did. "It's everybody's job to make sure that doesn't happen," they told me, from the City of Portland to the "International Building Code," which I guess is the zoning arm of the Illuminati.

Had you followed the law before erecting your shoddy, child-endangering amusement, you would have filed a site plan with the city, where eagle-eyed regulators would have spotted the property-line breach and forced you to modify your plans.

Now that you've screwed around and built the thing without a permit (and, I might add, compounded the infraction by alerting the media), you're ripe to be cited by the city. If you ignore these citations, you'll go into something called the "penalty matrix," which starts with fines and ends, presumably, with Randy Leonard commando-ing into your house at night and putting a live tarantula in your shorts.

So, as much as I hate to tell you this, it looks like you're going to have to tear the whole thing down, apologize to your neighbor, and go back to maiming the neighborhood kids the old-fashioned way—with a meat ax.


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