Saturday, August 23, 2008

Protection from our Protectors

The City’s Airport Commission held its first hearing on airport zoning on August 21. Carolyn Feibel reported in the Chronicle that “it was surprisingly brief and undramatic.” That isn’t completely surprising, since it was held in the middle of a work day.

Feibel wrote:

Brenda Taylor, who lives in the North Hollow subdivision near Bush IAH, said at the hearing that she understands why the city needs to restrict construction around the airport. But she doesn't like the provision of a notice being attached to real property records for houses located in the tiers.

Taylor referenced my last story, which said "The notice's exact language still is being worked out, but it will indicate that property in the tier could be subject to airport noise and hazards, and is located in an area that the city has power to regulate."

"After 25 years, my property has become dangerous?" asked Taylor. "If so, the cities of Houston and Humble have to take immediate steps to protect us."

Taylor has a legitimate concern. By government fiat her property is not subject to regulations and controls. Selling her home will likely be much more difficult.

Taylor is also correct in saying that the cities of Houston and Humble should be protecting her. The government’s sole purpose is the protection of individual rights, including property rights. However, the City of Houston is demonstrating, with ever greater frequency, its willingness to cast aside its role as a protector of rights and instead become a violator of rights.

Airport zoning is one example. The city is proposing regulations that will control construction around Houston’s airports. These regulations include soundproofing requirements, as well as a complete prohibition on construction in certain areas. In other words, the city is forcing land owners to follow its edicts, or face penalties of $500 per day.

This entire power grab is being motivated by an FAA mandate. But rather than stand up to the FAA, city officials are meekly caving to what is essentially blackmail. Rather than protect the property rights of Houstonians, city officials are seizing upon another opportunity to expand their control of land use within the city.

The contrast between our current city officials and America’s Founding Fathers is stark. Our Founders defiantly stood up to the most powerful military in the world. They proudly declared the rights of individuals to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. They did not cower in appeasement. They did not cave to political expediency.

City officials have abandoned their responsibility to protect our rights. Worse yet, they are becoming violators of those rights. Who will protect us from our protectors?

© J. Brian Phillips 2008

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