(This post is a part of my platform for my virtual campaign for the Mayor of Houston. You can read my announcement here and my statement of principles here.)
The city currently provides many services that are improper government functions. To provide these services, the city owns millions of dollars in assets. These assets can, and should be sold as a part of our privatization efforts. In addition, the city owns or is involved with other assets--such as sports facilities--that are used for functions that are improper for government involvement.
I hasten to add that such sales will occur in an orderly manner. We will not liquidate all city assets in a matter of months—it will be a gradual process, in which continuity of service will be a primary objective. Further, we will take all reasonable actions to insure that no Houstonian experiences a sudden and unexpected change. We will announce schedules and educate Houstonians during this process.
Our initial efforts will target neighborhood parks—parks that are one city block or smaller in size. While the details may vary slightly because of context, our general plan is to offer these parks for sale to the residents of the neighborhood in which the park is located. The residents can make the purchase through their home owner’s association, through a newly formed entity for the purpose of operating the park, or as individual shareholders.
We recognize that many individuals purchase a home specifically because of its proximity to a park. Therefore, we will attach deed restrictions to the land, which will require that the land remain a park for a period of approximately fifteen years. (These restrictions are voluntary and contractual--they are not an application of government mandated regulations.) This will insure that no home owner will be subjected to a sudden change in land use. At the time the deed restrictions lapse, the owners of the park will have the option to renew the deed restrictions according to whatever terms they choose. This will provide home owners protection against unwanted and unexpected development, but also allow the owners to change the land use at a future time.
We will take a similar approach with larger parks, though the method of sale will be modified. Larger parks, such as Bayland, attract visitors from a wider area, and are not situated within a specific neighborhood. At this time, we have not determined a precise method for selling larger parks.
We will not be selling icons such as Memorial Park or Herman Park as a part of our initial plan. The size and value of these parks will require careful consideration as to the most appropriate methods for privatization. Our immediate goal is to privatize those parks that can be done so easily, which will give citizens more control of their lives and allow us to reduce taxes.
We will develop similar plans for the city’s libraries, particularly the neighborhood libraries. We will sell health clinics, community centers, and similar assets as the city gets out of those businesses. In short, we will develop plans to sell all city assets that are not required for legitimate and proper government functions.
Some may argue that privatizing the city's libraries could result in an absence of such facilities. This may occur, but it does not change the fact that the provision of libraries is not a proper function of government. If citizens desire libraries (or community centers, health clinics, etc.), and are willing to pay for their use, entrepreneurs will seek to satisfy that demand, just as they provide other desired services. If the demand is insufficient to support libraries or other services, then the citizens will have demonstrated that they do not desire such services. In either case, the city will not force some individuals to pay for services used by others.
The sale of these assets will significantly reduce the city's budget. This will be reflected in a reduction in taxes. The sale of these assets will generate millions of dollars in revenue for the city, which will be used for further tax reductions and/ or rebates to the taxpayers. In the process, we will give you more control over your money and your life.