by Anna Manning
John Hood writes for Carolina Journal‘s Daily Journal:
If you own it, you control it. That’s what it means to enjoy a property right, in a nutshell. It is a right safeguarded by North Carolina’s constitution as well as the 14th amendment to the federal constitution, among other provisions.
And it is a right denied every day by localities across North Carolina.
As you may know, there are political fights across our state right now about housing. Some communities, worried about worsening affordability and responding to the preferences of young consumers, are considering plans to open up their housing markets by allowing higher-density development, “granny flats,” and other ways to add capacity at a reasonable cost.
At every step, these reformers find their way blocked by residents who seek to preserve or even tighten existing rules against such practices. All too often, these battles get headlined as “developers vs. neighborhoods.”
To frame the issue this way, however, is to ignore a large group of people: would-be homeowners and renters. They want reasonably priced options for housing. Developers want to sell them. Lot-size requirements and other government restrictions stand in the way of both willing buyers and willing sellers.
Naturally, the “neighborhood” advocates have an argument. Who doesn’t? They contend that more residences per square mile mean more vehicular traffic, more people, more bustle, more noise. Having already bought or rented their current residences, they argue that their quality of life will be harmed.
These debates usually devolve into competing factual claims, the wording of zoning ordinances, and speculations about the feasibility of transit or walkability as an alternative to automotive transportation. Not enough attention is paid, I think, to the fundamental question: What do you think you own?
Read more here.