Development/Gentrification

Property Rights

By Mark Lipman

Many raise the issue today that “You can’t tell someone what they can and cannot do with their property.”  However, this is not true.  We do it all the time.

For common sense and the safety of our larger community we set limits all the time.  From speeding through crowded intersections to littering, 90% of our laws deal with property and the proper use of it.  Where property rights end is when they infringe on the civil rights of others and the community rights of us all.

There is a reason we speak of scale and size and scope, of neighborhood characteristics.  These are what make up our collective experience and quality of life.  This gives us a common thread of our history and culture.  Each time a bulldozer rolls down the street, we lose another little bit of our heritage and soul.

Too often these days, those with big wallets think they can just waltz into an existing community – trampling on the rights of families who have called a place home for generations – and just do whatever they want … because they have money.

They buy off politicians who puppet remorse and crocodile tears every time a mom and pop shop, or community center, is forced to close its doors due to speculative investment, or a local resident gets an eviction notice due to no fault of their own, saying there’s nothing they can do, that “You can’t tell someone what they can do with their property,” when it is they who write the laws and handout the corporate subsidies and tax breaks to the very ones responsible for the gentrification we see today – clearing the path for the destruction of our neighborhoods, with our tax money.

In response, I say, “No.”  Just because someone has money and owns property doesn’t mean they can just do what they want.  With property also comes responsibility.

With that too comes accountability to the people of our local communities.  If the system is rigged, then it’s up to us to rewrite the rules.  If our selected officials are either unwilling or incapable of taking the necessary steps to protect our existing communities, then they need to be replaced with people who will.

No more sitting down.  No more being pushed around.  The people have rights.  Our neighborhoods and communities have rights.  It’s about time those rights be respected.

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