Thursday, July 3, 2008

Protecting Neighborhoods

Zoning advocates like to make lots of noises about how zoning will protect neighborhoods. Who could possibly be against that? Few people want to live in a crime infested neighborhood, or have neighbors with dilapidated cars in the front yard.

But like most advocates of government coercion, zoning supporters don’t acknowledge how they will protect neighborhoods. They don’t tell us the means by which they will achieve their ends. They want us to believe that the ends are so beneficial and so widely supported that the means are irrelevant.

But the ends do not justify the means. Any ends that require the initiation of force as their means are not justified. And this is precisely what zoning does.

Zoning imposes restrictions on how you may use your property. Under zoning, you may use your property, not by right, but only with the permission of zoning officials. And if you violate their edicts, you are subject to fines and/ or jail time.

What this means is that if you build a shed that violates zoning codes, you could go to jail. If you install shutters that violate the zoning code, you could be fined. If you do anything on your property that zoning officials do not approve, you become a criminal.

To be “democratic” and “empower the people” zoning officials solicit input from neighbors during zoning hearings. Typically, if neighbors disapprove of your intended use, zoning officials will reject it. Which means, your neighbors will have a greater voice in the use of your property than you will.

Personally, I would much rather have neighbors with junky cars in the front yard than neighbors who tell me how to use my property. Junky cars are ugly. Power lusting neighbors are equally ugly, and also immoral.

© J. Brian Phillips 2008

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