Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What About the Future?

Preservationists insist that we protect "our past" by prohibiting the demolition of old buildings. In the current "debate" over the city's proposal to toughen the existing preservation ordinance, the Chronicle previously reported:
The city plans to begin negotiating with developers, property owners and preservationists in the coming months about permanent changes to the law...
Many would think that it is reasonable to gather together those who will be impacted by the ordinance to work out an agreement. But the truth is, this is impossible. The city cannot even begin to identify everyone who will be impacted by the ordinance.

For example, if someone moves to Houston after the ordinance is enacted and seeks to buy a home in a "protected" neighborhood, he will find that housing prices have risen dramatically. (Sue Lovell, who is leading the preservation effort, has noted that home prices in "protected" neighborhoods have risen 30%.) He will pay significantly more for housing or have to seek housing somewhere else. Yet he is not going to be invited to the city's pow wow.

Further, as the number of "protected" neighborhoods expands, pressure on housing in other areas will also increase, driving up prices there. How far and to what extent this ripple will continue is impossible to predict, but the result will be higher housing prices throughout the city. This will impact everyone who currently lives in Houston and surrounding areas, as well as anyone who moves to the city in the future. They will be among the hidden victims of the city's attempt to preserve the past.

As with all government interventions, the focus is on the here and now. The long-term consequences are of no concern. They will worry about the future when it gets here. And that usually means more interventions.


AMAI said...

I disagree totally with the idea of preserving buildings by force - gov't decree. Anyone who cares about saving some old building should buy that people, or convince someone with money to buy it for them, so they can oversee the maintenance of said building for time capsule purposes.

Forcing everyone to pay for it is anti-rights and - to judge by the lack of success of government in every other area it has forced its way into, will not actually result in proper preservation of said buildings.

The proper way to achieve the goal of the preservationists is by respecting private property rights, not by abridging them.

Brian Phillips said...

I don't even agree with the goal of the preservationists. They put more value in the past than the present or the future. They put more value in bricks and mortar than the lives of human beings.

They treat "historic" buildings as intrinsically valuable. There is no such thing as an intrinsic value.