Property Rights, the Environment and Growth Management are a few of the buzz topics in the current election season and as such, the Bellingham Herald apparently chose that angle when they covered the recent Tea Party Candidate Forum. In that article they contrasted the current State Reps for the 42nd District, Vince Buys & Jason Overstreet with their challengers for office, Natalie McClendon & Matt Krogh.
People do tend to wrap the environment in with growth management, but both are really property rights issues and on property rights there is a stark contrast between these pairs of candidates. To understand the contrast you need to understand the property rights issue.
The property rights issue isn’t about anyone wanting to damage, pollute or harm the environment. The property rights issue is simply about you getting to decide what is the best use of your property, as opposed to others deciding how your property will best serve the community. That’s the crux of the property rights debate; who is in control of your property, you or the government.
At the forum, when the challengers Natalie McClendon & Matt Krogh, addressed government regulatory control of private land it was pretty evident which side of the property rights issue they land on.
“Land use regulations should be imposed or amended in a way that benefits the community.”
“The goal is the public good,”
“He agreed that private property rights should be respected, but he stressed the importance of protecting the quality of life in Washington state…
I guess I am in stark contrast to their way of thinking also, because my home is not a charitable contribution for the public good of the community, nor did I work to purchase my home with the intent to protect the quality of life in our state. We just wanted a place to live. The problem with intangible ideas like public good and quality of life is that they are often defined by public vote, committee or worse, by a non-elected non-governmental organization. Then, shortly thereafter those definitions are put into regulation and the government enforces their control over your property use. It’s usually not even in big ways that really jump out at you, it’s more often in small subtle ways.
Take this recent example happening in the streets of Ferndale. A year ago land owners along some portions of Main Street could have decided to plant a few of their favorite trees in their front yard near the road and they would have had every right to do so. This year however, they have found that the city has seized that portion of their property from them, bulldozed it, widened the road, and then landscaped along their much smaller front yard as the city saw fit.
Ferndale may need to go to court to assert its authority to move forward with the $4.3 million road project as a public benefit, which trumps the right of property owners to keep their land.
I’ve sat through council meetings and I’m sure the city officials feel that what they are doing along Main Street is in the interest of public good, and that the new landscaping contributes to the quality of life for the people of Ferndale, but how is the quality of life for the homeowners who now have bike lanes and sidewalks running through what used to be their front yard? Is that vision the homeowners had for their property when they purchased it? Is it their vision now? Barring any safety issues, how is it that governments like the City of Ferndale feel they have the power to “trump” your property as a property owner? It’s the people we elect and send to Olympia to make laws.
Do you want representatives such as Natalie McClendon and Matt Krogh that seem to think along the lines of the City of Ferndale? Do you want representatives that feel that the government has first right to your property? I don’t. I won’t be voting for either of these people and I hope, for the sake of all of our private property, that you don’t either.