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June 27, 2022

Destroying the American dream too high a price for growth control

What some propose to do to SBC property owners’ rights is
contrary to the American dream of property ownership. To paraphrase
Mr. Justice Cardozo, the assault on the citadel of private property
is proceeding apace. Destroying the American dream, undercutting
outright ownership, is too high a price to pay for

growth control.

What some propose to do to SBC property owners’ rights is contrary to the American dream of property ownership. To paraphrase Mr. Justice Cardozo, the assault on the citadel of private property is proceeding apace. Destroying the American dream, undercutting outright ownership, is too high a price to pay for “growth control.”

My grandfather’s Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd ed. 1910), gives this definition of “fee simple,” outright ownership of real property, “An absolute or fee simple estate is one in which the owner is entitled to the entire property, with unconditional power of disposition during his life, and descending to his heirs and legal representatives upon his death intestate.”

Instead of cherishing it, some would toss it out in the name of “community.” In the century or so since SBC was settled, property rights have eroded. Government taking without compensation in violation of both the state and federal constitutions is increasingly common. Not satisfied with zoning regulations and restrictions, government would seize the equity appreciation by “partnering” with property owners. Is there anything more Marxist-Leninist than uncompensated taking of a landowner’s property rights for the “community?”

Mr. Justice Marshall warned us long ago, “The power to tax is the power to kill.” Government in America that mimics the Soviet Union has overstepped its authority, which rests with the governed under our system of government.

Government seizure and violation of property owners rights is among Jefferson’s list of grievances against King George in the Declaration of Independence. If you sacrifice your neighbor’s property rights in the name of “growth control,” do you really expect that your property rights, e.g., the equity in your house, will be off limits to the radical socialists? Eighty-one years ago, Mr. Justice Holmes warned us about berserk government: “We are in danger of forgetting that a strong public desire to improve the public condition is not enough to warrant achieving the desire by a shorter cut than the constitutional way of paying for the change.”

Our present Chief Justice reminded us of the Great Dissenter’s prophetic words most recently in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. No amount of growth control is worth forsaking our constitutional rights guaranteed us by the Founding Fathers. Americans must reject offers to Sovietize our country. People who want communism should go to a communist country to live in growth control bliss. Caveat Viator!

Joseph P. Thompson,

Tres Pinos

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