Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Unholy Alliance, Part Five

Pullman and Whitman County are obviously not the only rural areas dealing with "pull up the drawbridgers."

So is Mesquite NM, as so eloquently described in this July 10, 2006 Mesquite Local News editorial:
Drawbridge Mentality Has No Place Here

It’s become a common scenario all over the country.

People move to popular destinations by the hundreds, snapping up property and establishing themselves as a community’s newest residents.

Then the call goes out to end growth, stop construction, and halt the entry of any new residents.

Basically, they want to “pull up the drawbridge” now that they have arrived, keeping others from coming in and disturbing the paradise they have found.

The drawbridge mentality has struck Mesquite, as evidenced by the recent move to halt construction above the Copper Bluffs neighborhood.

It’s ironic that residents of this gated community have started a petition to stop development of a new housing project because of their claim that the construction will “destroy the beautiful mountain ridges, bluffs and natural desert areas adjacent to Copper Bluffs.”

The irony is that they are living in a neighborhood that was only made possible after the land where their houses are now sitting was similarly carved and shaped to accommodate the construction.

It’s become a common cry in Mesquite for people whose homes often sit atop regal perches that were once deemed beautiful landscape features to now rail against the same kind of desecration that might mar their views.

In fact, if developers shied away from every elevated land mass that somebody thought was too picturesque to disturb, there would be no Calais, no Falcon Ridge, no Canyon Crest.

And no Copper Bluffs.

While nobody wants to see hills cavalierly flattened and destroyed, it’s ludicrous to think that a developer would kill his golden goose by turning millions of dollars worth of land investments into something ugly and unpalatable.

More importantly, it’s un-American to tell a legitimate land-owner that he cannot use his land as he sees fit because it might “mess up somebody’s view.”

As has been pointed out before, you can’t buy a view, even when you’ve paid a half a million dollars for your house.

The only way is to get together with other like-minded neighbors and purchase the land, then apply deed restrictions to keep it pristine and untouched.

But the truth is that most homeowners aren’t willing to “put up or shut up” and tie up their own money to protect their surroundings.

Instead, they insist that their governments use tax dollars paid by all of us to buy the land to preserve their high-dollar views.

Or coerce their government officials to use building permit restrictions and zoning filibusters to accomplish the same goals,
shutting out new residents hoping to taste that which has drawn the current homeowners to this desert delight.

On Tuesday, that is most likely what will happen, as Copper Bluffs residents are expected to flood the Mesquite City Hall to convince the city council to stop the construction.

Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that nearly every person in that council chamber and the majority of us in Mesquite are living in houses built by visionary developers, those developers will have very few friends to balance the discourse.

In the final analysis, it comes down to a battle between property rights and property values.

This country draws its strength from the exercise of men and women yearning for the American dream of home ownership, and the American right to do with that property whatever their imagination can foster.

Protecting the status quo in the name of keeping property values in an upward spiral has to come second.

If we are to have any hope of returning to the greatness of days gone by, days of land rushes and pioneering and building communities out of nothingness, rights must be more important than money.

Every house ever built in Mesquite has negatively impacted somebody’s view.

That’s not a good enough reason to stop building homes for the next wave of people who will eventually become our next batch of good neighbors.

Let’s make the words “Welcome to Mesquite” more than just an empty Chamber of Commerce slogan.

Keep the gates open.

Keep the moats empty.

And keep the drawbridges down for our future friends.

Type rest of the post here
Think about this editorial the next time you read about the "viewscape" restrictions in the proposed Whitman County rural residential zoning ordinance. If only we had some local politicans bold enough to champion the view that property rights come first over property values.

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