Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Breaking a Few Eggs

I have previously written how the Texas Open Beaches Act may be used to prohibit beach front property owners from rebuilding their homes in the wake of Hurricane Ike. This is bad enough, but California officials are attempting to force George and Sharlee McNamee to remove a shower, thatched palapa, and an ornamental sign from their yard. According to the Orange County Register

In a much-publicized case, the California Coastal Commission has declared that the yard's embellishments – from shelving to rose bushes – are illegal coastal development and must be ripped out.
The Commission is claiming that the McNamees did not obtain permission to install these items. The LA Times reports:

It doesn't matter that the improvements are on the McNamees' property. Under the 1976 Coastal Act, private and public shorefront property are subject to state regulation to protect the environment and ensure public beach access.

In the McNamees' case, the state says their recreational amenities involved unpermitted grading and damage to the bluff, and gives the perception of a private beach -- intimidating beachgoers into avoiding the public sand nearby.
Interestingly, the Coastal Act allows the state to regulate private beach property, and a part of that regulation is to prohibit anyone from creating "the perception of a private beach". In other words, the state "recognizes" that it is private property and forces the property owner to pay taxes on it, but wants everyone to pretend that it is public property.

The right to property is the right of use and disposal. The right to property means that the owner has control over the property and its use. Ownership without control is meaningless. The state wants the McNamees to assume all of the responsibilities of ownership--including taxes--but denies them any control over their property. This facade of ownership is the defining characteristic of fascism.

If this weren't such a serious issue, the state's claim that a shower, grill, and flower bed intimidates beach goers would be comical. The state is concerned that someone may avoid a public beach because of a flower garden, but it cares little about the rights of the McNamees. And if it's not bad enough that they may have to remove their accoutrements, they are facing fines of $6,000 per day for violating the state's mandates.

Mark Massara, director of the Sierra Club's coastal programs, expresses no sympathy for the McNamees:

This is not about a picnic table and not entirely about the McNamees. This is about unpermitted cabinets, stoves, water lines and gas lines running up the hillside, and showers -- pervasive, unpermitted development...

The Coastal Commission has been nothing but accommodating to these people, allowing them to maintain this illegal development for years and years and years while the McNamees sue the Coastal Commission.

This type of arrogance is not surprising from an environmentalist movement that ascribes rights to trees, rivers, and animals, but not human beings. While proclaiming that they want to protect the environment for future generations, they destroy the lives of the existing generations.

Massara is surprisingly candid when he states that this is "not entirely about the McNamees." The McNamees just happen to be the latest victims. This is really about destroying man's ability to alter the environment, which means, destroying man's ability to live.

Only by altering our environment can we create the values necessary to live and enjoy life. We alter our environment when we plant crops, dig minerals, cut down trees, dam rivers, erect electrical wires, and virtually every other activity humans engage in. Property rights protect those who engage in such efforts.

The right to property is the practical implementation of individual rights. Without property rights, the right to freedom of speech cannot be implemented--one could not obtain or control the means to print or broadcast or otherwise disperse one's thoughts. Without property rights, one could not possess the means of self-defense. Without property rights, one does not have the means to sustain and enjoy his life. Every form of tyranny begins by destroying property rights, and with them, the ability of individuals to act and live independently.

The California Coastal Commission has complete control over land use within their jurisdiction:

The Coastal Act includes specific policies (see Division 20 of the Public Resources Code) that address issues such as shoreline public access and recreation, lower cost visitor accommodations, terrestrial and marine habitat protection, visual resources, landform alteration, agricultural lands, commercial fisheries, industrial uses, water quality, offshore oil and gas development, transportation, development design, power plants, ports, and public works. The policies of the Coastal Act constitute the statutory standards applied to planning and regulatory decisions made by the Commission and by local governments, pursuant to the Coastal Act.
There is no land use that could not be classified in one of the categories listed in the Coastal Act. Which means, there is no land use that does not require the permission of the Coastal Commission. Which means, property owners cannot use their land as they choose, but only as dictated by the Coastal Commission.

Supposedly, Mao Tse-tung defended his policy of murdering opponents by saying, "You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet." The Coastal Commission and environmentalists don't mind breaking a few eggs either. And those eggs just happen to be the lives of individual human beings, such as the McNamees.

1 comment:

Paul Beard said...

Excellent post. Of course, I'm biased, because I amd my colleague, Damien Schiff, represent the McNamees in their appeal. And I consider myself an Objectivist. It is important that the philosophical implications of the Commission's absurd actions be publicized as much as possible, as we all too often (as we must) focus on the legal merits of a given case.