3/01/2005

Property

I read a great article about the eminent domain case presently in front of the US Supreme Court. This case involves a government's attempt to condemn and take property not for public use, but for private use. We do not have a great eminent domain issue in our community, but that doesn't mean that our property rights are not under siege.

If you stop and think about the proposed Land Use Code, or the proposed Sign Code, or the Smoking Law, all of these represent a significant infringement on our right to do what we please with our property. If I go out into the market place, borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars, and buy a building for my business, shouldn't I be the one to decide what the signs look like? Shouldn't I be the one to decide whether people can smoke in my building?

It might be an oversimplification to say that the existence or non-existence of private property is the real distinction between capitalism and communism. Then again, it might not be. Communism, a bankrupt system that has left tens of millions dead, does not work with free ownership of property.

Call me an alarmist, but every time some group tries to dictate what we can or cannot do with our property, we slip in the wrong direction. How much does your free use of the land need to be controlled by third parties before you feel like you don't really own it anymore?

I think it would be shocking if we conducted a survey asking people whether they ought to have a say in the use of property they do not own simply because they drive past it or live near it. I would venture a guess that a majority of people would respond that they should have such a say in the interest of our 'community's image,' or 'public health and welfare.' How far will it slide?

By the way, we don't need zoning. There are, in fact, interesting cities that have grown up to be big cities without a zoning board trying to tell everyone what they can or cannot do.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Interesting articles on zoning. Very timely since both the city and county are involved in these processes.