The right to own and use your property is fundamental

The right to own and use your property is fundamental

– Are property rights more than theory? Let me put that differently. Do you have the right to
peacefully use your property as you see fit? It’s a question that
has come up repeatedly as homeowners try to
raise backyard chickens but are forcefully shut down by the city. As children try to
operate a lemonade stand on their driveway without a permit and as empty nesters take
advantage of their vacant bedrooms and lonelier life by welcoming visitors to stay with them using
a site like Airbnb. But what about the right to
keep the property you own? The government has long
claimed the authority under a law known as eminent domain to take your property if
it thinks it needs it, say for building a road
or a government building. But this law has been regularly abused for non-essential things. Consider the Kelo case that made its way to the
Supreme Court in 2005. This legal battle started when the city of New London, Connecticut condemned Susette Kelo’s home so that it could be used as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan. In plain language, the city
initiated legal proceedings to steal her property and
instead give it to a developer so Pfizer, a private company,
could build a new facility. Ultimately the Supreme Court decided in a split five to four ruling that this use of eminent
domain was allowed. That the government
could take your property for economic development purposes. The backlash was swift. Most states, in response to this ruling, enacted laws to restrict
or prohibit this abuse of eminent domain. In Utah, eminent domain
is allowed for public uses for the benefit of any county, city or town or its inhabitants, a broad provision that needs narrowing. Some exemptions exist. For example, eminent domain
may not be used for trails. But more work is needed to protect property rights from abuse. For starters, eminent
domain should be prohibited for non-essential things like parks, recreation or sports facilities, and economic development purposes. Another area that needs work is identifying what’s actually necessary. Often times the government
will claim that eminent domain is necessary but there’s
nothing in the law to give the judge any
guidelines to determine whether a property taking
is actually needed. The law should spell it out objectively so judges have a standard to go off of. The right to own and use
our property is fundamental and should be protected from abuse. In that regard, Utah’s eminent
domain laws still need work. For Libertas Institute,
I’m Nichelle Aiden.

2 thoughts on “The right to own and use your property is fundamental

  1. "Own" if that isn't a larf. Try to stop paying your taxes and see how much you own property. Your rent it, nothing more.

  2. Only fools believe they own property in North America, you pay for the right to use the land but you never own it. My wife and I own land in the Philippines and are allowed to do what we please on it as long as it's not illegal. If we dont pay taxes it's still ours and we dont need to ask permission to do what we want on our land.

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