"'Necessity' is the plea for every infringement of human liberty. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."Paul, I would love to see your view on this letter that appeared in the Daily News today:
-William Pitt (The Younger)
Land-use regulations are nothing new. Historically in the Wild West these restrictions were scarce but have necessarily increased with increasing population growth, conflicting activities, and multiple land uses. Land-use regulations strive to offer certain protections for all. Hopefully, this will remain the case as our area grows.
At the recent public hearing on proposed land-use regulations regarding rural residential development in Whitman County (“Residents lash out against land laws,” Daily News, Aug. 30) we note that those against the proposed regulations complained of severe infringements on their private property rights and expressed the view “It’s our land … We should be able to do what we want to do.” No need to take down the American flag just yet. Those concerns are quite exaggerated. Zoning regulations are nothing new. Although people who do own land have benefited from our tradition of private property rights, those rights have never been absolute
A main issue that has been inserted into the public discussion, and rightfully so in our opinion, is: “Who owns the view?” The Palouse is a distinctively beautiful area common to us all but uncommon in its beauty. We appreciate the effort of others to improve the economy of the region but hope that prosperity will not cheapen us in turn.
If we do indeed experience hoped-for economic prosperity, it should be obvious to all who look out over the smooth contours of the Palouse skyline and the few houses already perched obtrusively on hilltops that they will not be the last, by far. Unrestricted, people will build on the skyline to enjoy the unobstructed view, themselves obstructing what they value.
Other communities who have valued their assets of landform beauty have regulated accordingly. Others have not acted decisively and these areas have suffered a degradation of their citizen’s quality of life.
Richard C. and Carla A. Wesson, Pullman No absolute private property rights? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one? (Sorry, Mr. Spock)
When I read this letter, I immediately thought of Paul Fedako's excellent article at Mises.org titled "Zoning is Theft". The parallels with Whitman County are plentiful.
As Bastiat wrote, "The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder."