Pilot program is bad deal for city
June 5, 2013
For more than a year now, a group of property owners have been pushing for a “pilot program” to allow them to develop land that is currently off limits.
They cast it in terms of their property rights being restricted versus environmental favor.
But it is not property rights at stake, and the pilot is a bad idea. The City Council should leave the existing regulations in place.
These residents do not want simply to use their property; they want to develop it.
If they wanted to build a single house on the land, there is almost always a way to do that. But they generally want to carve up one large piece of land into lots of smaller pieces, build houses on them and leave town.
These property owners are not losing a right to live on their land. They are losing an opportunity to use their land as an investment.
People do, and should, have a right to use property they own. No one, however, has a right to turn a profit — especially at the expense of the greater good, a healthy environment that benefits everyone.
Certainly people have the right to try and make money on their land, but some investments don’t go as planned.
Those clamoring for the chance to use a pilot program to develop are not simply homeowners — they are acting as land speculators.
While they should have that chance, the City Council should not be swayed by arguments that anyone is losing the right to use their land.
Even attempting to call their request a pilot program is misleading.
The term implies that if the program is a failure, the city can stop doing it.
But if it’s a failure, the damage will already be done.
The environment will be degraded and there will be a dozens of new homes on the land. It is unlikely the city would be able to remove the homes — for decades if ever.
The regulations have worked well for a long time. In this case, there is no good reason to change them.