Property Rights is a topic that should be on everyone’s minds. If you own property, you should have the ability to use it the way you see fit AS LONG AS it does not harm other people. That is where the Property Rights debate gets a little grey. What is considered harming someone else? Everyone is going to have a different threshold of what they consider being harmed. And if the City Ordinance goes to far, should you be able to sue the City?
We probably all agree that if someone uses their home for manufacturing toxic chemicals or to build explosives, that has the potential to harm neighbors. There is not a whole lot of debate about the basic concept of zoning ordinances. There is however a debate on how far the ordinances can go.
For example, my neighbor mows his lawn at 8:00am every Saturday morning and I want to enjoy my cup coffee on the back porch. Should I get to go to the City Council and get an ordinance passed that restricts lawn mowing between 8:00am and 10:00am because I feel I am being harmed by not being able to enjoy my morning coffee in quiet? Or is my neighbors right to mow his grass as important as my right to enjoy a cup coffee on my back porch?
Should there be an ordinance for the color of paint someone can paint their home because if they choose an ugly color I may be harmed because buyer may not want to live next door to an ugly house? How about the flowers and plants? What if I am allergic to Tulips or Marigolds, should there be an ordinance to prevent people from planting those flowers in the City I live in?
What if I am out of work or called to duty overseas, should I be able to rent my home out to cover my mortgage payment? Well, that is what this case is all about…
The Minnesota chapter of a national civil liberties legal group is going to court to fight for the property rights of a Winona man who’s got other battles on his hands: He’s currently serving as a U.S. advisor in war-torn Afghanistan. The Institute for Justice (IJ) will ask a Minnesota District Court in Winona to strike down a city ordinance prohibiting Ethan Dean, now on his fifth tour of duty in the Mideast, and three other homeowners from renting out their property.
“This is a law that started in Winona and has spread to other cities in Minnesota and what we need to do is stop this trend before it goes any further,” said Anthony Sanders, staff attorney with IJ’s Minnesota chapter. “The right to rent out your home is a fundamental property right, a traditional and accepted use of your property and Winona is trampling on that.”
…“I don’t really understand how someone believes they have the right to tell someone else how and what they can do with their home, but it is a strange world at times, I guess,” Dean told FFM at the time. City officials view the measure as a way to preserve the single family character of city neighborhoods particularly near Winona State University by regulating the number of houses rented mainly to college students. Complaints over student parties, vandalism and absentee landlords led to the imposition of the ordinance in 2005.
This is a major issue that everyone should pay attention to and have an honest debate on where the line is on Property Rights. Without an honest debate we are on a very slippery slope.
I will try to monitor this story as it goes forward and keep you posted because I am very interested in this issue of Property Rights.
What are your opinions on Property Rights and where the line is drawn? Has a line been crossed?
- Your Right to Sue a Minnesota City (aaronhall.com)