From the August 2002 Idaho Observer:
Local governments gaining access to private kitchens, bedrooms
by Don Harkins
Public servants have become so militant in their zeal to enforce administrative rules authorized by increasingly intrusive statutes passed in the state legislatures that they justify forcing themselves into private homes for code enforcement inspections.
The Asheville Tribune (Tennessee) recently reported that two area municipalities have adopted ordinances that authorize city employees to enter peoples' homes to check for zoning and building code compliance. We get an administrative search warrant and then they have to let us in, said Hickory building code inspections Director Armin Wallner.
Wallner's inspections posse is reportedly on the lookout for homes and businesses with broken windows, ripped awnings, battered fences or other maintenance code violations.
According to Wallner, code violations like a broken window come with a penalty of up to $50 per day until the violation is corrected. Persons who refuse to pay the fine or correct the violation are forced to appear before a magistrate.
The courts generally uphold ordinances and statutes.
Similar inspections ordinances are being enforced in Redding, California. City officials there claim that hundreds of homes that contain children are likely in violation of fire safety codes that demand residences have fully functioning smoke and fire alarms. According to Redding officials, it was the right and responsibility of government to force themselves into private homes to make sure owners or renters are in compliance with safety codes and ordinances.
The Tribune reported that Montreat, NC, is considering the adoption of periodic safety inspections, of all homes. The Tribune also indicated that the town was considering a plan that would generate, a long list of other requirements for residences.
In Caldwell (Idaho) government agents have become landscape police who enforce ordinance provisions that make sure private businesses and residences look nice. The job assignment is to intrude into peoples' lives, Caldwell Community Development Director Steve Hasson told town resident Violet Harris last fall.
Harris informed Hasson that the Founding Fathers supported property rights. Hasson informed Harris that she was mistaken and that Benjamin Franklin was not a property rights advocate.
Harris called the mayor's office to discuss the issue and recalled a conversation with his secretary.But don't you want our city to look nice? The woman asked.
Hasson apparently had Harris on his mind for several months as almost a year later, in a letter dated July 30, Hasson triumphantly wrote her a letter with a quote by Franklin that is arguably unsupportive of property rights. All property, indeed, except the savage's temporary bow, his match, coat and other little acquisitions absolutely necessary for his subsistence, seem to me to be the creature of public convention. Laws and customs made accumulation of property possible; the public therefore has the right to regulate the quantity and use of property. All the property that is necessary to man for the conservation of the individual and the propagation of the species is his natural right, which none can justly deprive him of; but all property superfluous to such purpose is the property of the public, who by their laws have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it when ever the welfare of the public shall demand such disposition.
Hasson qualified the quote, and, therefore, qualified his intrusive job, by stating, Benjamin Franklin was considered the most influential man in America from the founding of this country to the time of his death.
Though his analysis of the Franklin quote is self-serving for the purpose of justifying his bureaucratic existence, it appears too simplistic and is inconsistent with Franklin's other writings on the subject of property. It is however, consistent with the writings of Karl Marx, Frederich Engels and Adolph Hitler. Marx and Engels adopted the Abolition of property in land and all rents of land to public purpose, as the first plank of The Communist Manifesto.
Hitler was quoted as saying, It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of this nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole. . . .That above all the unity of a nation's spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual. . .
Regardless of what Hitler and Marx/Engels had to say about property rights and regardless of how Hasson interpreted Franklin's view of property rights to justify his bureaucratic existence, the 4th Amendment provides that the people are to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The 5th Amendment further acknowledges the right to be secure in the ownership of one's property by stating that, .private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
In other words, the government has no right to impose its will on the private property owner unless it intends to purchase said property at fair market value.
The examples given in this story from the west, northwest and the southeast U.S. are consistent with land use policies being enforced with increasing militancy all over the nation. With that in mind, consider the following list of private property provisions being considered in Montreat:
* Mandating that every homeowner be required to provide an off-street parking space for every bedroom in the house.
* ...periodic safety inspections of all [privately owned] homes by the Black Mountain Fire Dept., especially those which are rented.
* Requiring all property owners who rent housing to obtain a rental privilege license from the Town of Montreat, and that provision of such license be worked out...
* Requiring the use of only natural materials for homes and structures, to include wood, stone and natural materials.
* Regulating what proper landscaping on private property would be; to include what type of bushes, trees and plants are appropriate in a personal flower bed or private garden.
* Using the Land of Sky Regional Council as a resource to help develop alternatives to paved parking... to minimize storm water run-off.
* Limit the amount of vehicles traveling through the valley thus decreasing the dangers of air pollution damage to humans, animals and plants.
* Incorporating shuttle buses to run people into Montreat from external parking facilities.
* Regulating noise from automobiles, summer conferences and heating and cooling equipment.
* Obtaining a minimum of 3,000 acres (to be preserved) in order to provide a large enough un-fragmented preserve to maintain biodiversity and to offer diversity of wilderness recreational experiences.
* Conducting a full inventory of plant and animal species in Montreat to see if there are any species that would need to be titled as threatened or endangered within the Montreat Wilderness area.
* Placing platted lots which are adjacent to the Montreat Wilderness boundary, into the Montreat Wilderness, thus adding additional wilderness acreage closer and more accessible.
* Closing any additional hiking trails or hiking shelters within the Montreat Wilderness in order to protect and preserve the wilderness environment from user impact.
* Requiring any large groups holding public events to provide a plan for traffic control and parking and demonstrate means of implementation to the Town for approval.
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At the time of the ratification of the Constitution in 1787 do you believe the Founding Fathers envisioned a time when government would be empowered to forcibly enter a home and cite the occupants for safety code violations? Do you think that their hope was to establish a society of free persons who would be compelled to plant certain trees and shrubs and pull certain weeds under threat of property seizure? If you answered yes then you have missed the point our Founders were trying to make. The right to own property is the right for the owner to manage and care for that property as he sees fit and to have total authority to dispose of it as he sees fit. To view private property in any other light is to view it as public property. Apparently, those who staff government agencies do not espouse the Founders' view of private property; their view is more akin to that of Marx and Engels.
The Idaho Observer
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Spirit Lake, Idaho 83869