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August 04, 2019

Property Rights: The Red-Headed Stepchild That Congress Would Rather Just Ignore

Property Rights? Never heard of 'em! But government sure has, and has been eroding those rights for many. many years. Of course everyone loves to rail against the EPA and their most dangerous weapon, The Clean Water Act, and let us not forget Kelo v. City of New London. But government violates our property rights in so many different ways that it is hard to keep track. Here's a doozy! Neighborhood Activists Would Rather Preserve Tom's Diner Than Let Its Owner Retire in Peace* Historic preservation laws are a particularly egregious violation of our property rights, because they are, by definition, subjective and vulnerable to the whims of just a few people.

Everything was going swimmingly until Denver's historic preservationists got wind of Messina's evil plan to sell his property and retire after two decades of serving Denver residents in order for new business owners and residents to work and live where his diner currently sits.

When Alberta Company applied for what is known as a Certificate of Non-Historic Status, which would allow the building to be demolished and redeveloped, five community members assisted by the local preservationist nonprofit Historic Denver filed an application to designate Messina's restaurant a historic landmark. If granted, this landmark status would prevent the building's redevelopment into apartments, drastically reducing the value of Messina's property.

In their 30-plus page application to the city, these activists argued that Messina's restaurant—first built in 1967 as part of the now-extinct White Spots restaurant chain—is a classic example of mid-century Googie architecture and thus worthy of protection.

"Googie Architecture?" What the hell is that? It's a defunct restaurant chain's design, undoubtedly chosen because it was easy and cheap to build and it stood out. This ain't the Sistine Chapel folks. But even if it were, Mr. Messina has the absolute right to do with his property what he wishes.

The pinch-faced scolds of the Left are quite good at using these well-meaning but awful laws to prevent development, keep minorities out of their neighborhoods, and generally just tell normals what to do. It's pure power...trying to sculpt the world into the shapes that they want, and it is no different than any other totalitarian tendency.

If I were advising Mr. Messina I would be suggesting that he consult some engineering textbooks and learn how to bring down the entire building with some strategically placed sawzall cuts through the load-bearing structures. And I would suggest that he do it before the city council rules.

*Yeah, it's a "Reason" article, but blind squirrels, nuts, stopped clocks, etc.

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posted by CBD at 12:20 PM

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