John Locke Update / Research Newsletter (Archive)

Western NC Slope Ordinances

posted on in Local Government

This week I have the able assistance of some of my
colleagues at the John Locke Foundation and Carolina Journal.

Western NC slope ordinances enshrine the
"right" to a view and ignore the Fifth Amendment

Becki Grey, our vice president for outreach, reports
that Buncombe County commissioners are considering
zoning changes
that would severely restrict "the height of buildings,
regulating plantings that might obscure views and mandating low-density
development along ridge lines and slopes…."

While there is some concern about the safety of building on
slopes, that concern is often used as an excuse to pile on restrictions to
protect the view. It is unfortunate that so many elected officials are
responding to a newfound "right" for the public to have a view rather
than the Fifth Amendment’s protection of private property: "nor shall
private property be taken for public use without just compensation."

It is clear that those who want government to restrict land
use to protect their view are "taking" the value of that property for
public use, and justice requires that they pay for that decrease in property
value. Unfortunately, the courts, for all practical purposes, ignore this
provision of the Fifth Amendment.

Junk Climate Change Science in Apex

Carolina Journal columnist Donna Martinez calls our
attention here to a
dispute brewing in Apex. Councilman Bill Jensen wants the council to pass a
global warming resolution, and Mayor Keith Weatherly opposes the measure
because it is based on junk science. Councilman Jensen is not deterred. He has
approached the Cary mayor and council asking them to discuss passing a joint
Apex/Cary resolution.

Global warming alarmists have been pressuring city councils
and county commissions all over the state to pass these resolutions and to
adopt policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We have been critical of
these resolutions and the state-level effort by the Legislative Commission on
Global Climate Change. Even if all North Carolina cities and counties
eliminated all of their CO2 emissions, it would have no impact on global
temperatures. We also conducted analysis that indicates that the
recommendations of the Legislature’s Commission on Global Climate Change, if implemented,
would destroy 33,000 jobs and decrease the state gross domestic product by $4.5
billion annually. See our report "The Economics of
Climate Change Legislation in North Carolina
" written by the
economists at the Beacon Hill Institute.

Restricting competition to protect the politically
powerful in Raleigh

Please forgive me for mentioning Raleigh in almost every
newsletter, but the antics of the Raleigh city council members provide such
easy targets.

As this Carolina Journal article by associate editor Sara Borrows notes, some city
council members believe it is the city council’s job to protect Fayetteville
Street restaurants, including one that they subsidized to the tune of almost $1
million, from competition from street food vendors. By the way, restricting
competition to protect the city council subsidized restaurant seems to be an obvious
conflict of interest.

asked why the city restricts the number and location of mobile food units,
Raleigh City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said it was necessary to protect
established restaurants from competition and to keep the streets looking neat
and tidy.

I don’t recall any part of the U.S. Constitution, the North
Carolina Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or the city code that
makes it the job of the city council to restrict competition. I know, I know —
the federal government does this all the time with subsidies, trade
restrictions, and financial bailouts of the banks and auto industry. Thinking
that you have the responsibility to pick winners and losers in the private
economy must be part of the genetic make-up of people who run for office.

As for the responsibility to keep the street "neat and
tidy," look at this photo of a New York City
street in 1903
. I am sure council member Baldwin and the two architects on
the Raleigh council would be horrified, if they clicked the link to view the photo.

When I look at the photo, I see my grandparents and perhaps yours starting with
next to nothing and working their way up the economic ladder in a land of
opportunity. I see smiling faces engaging in mutual exchanges that are making
both parties better off. I see a concern for people and not the "neat and
tidy" appearance of the street.

What I don’t see is a busybody city council favoring the
politically powerful interests by restricting trade. How many unemployed people
in Raleigh would love to have the opportunity to sell food, produce, or wares
on Fayetteville Street unmolested by government? If Fayetteville Street looked
like this 1903 NYC street, would the people be better off or worse off? That
question answers itself. And many council members claim to be for the
"little guy."

Michael Sanera is Director of Research and Local Government Studies at the John Locke Foundation. He served as a policy analyst for the Washington, DC based The Heritage Foundation, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the California based Claremont Institute. ...

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