Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Runaway Boulder Crushes Residents

It's bad enough when a city or town declares an entire neighborhood "historic," over the objections of property owners who (quite understandably) fear that their freedom to renovate or demolish a home or business will be usurped by some historic preservation committee. But even more alarming is the possibility that such designations could be made piecemeal, targeting individual properties that the city, or busy-body neighbors, don't want changed.

Simply by declaring a property "historic," the city acquires veto power over what that property owner can do with it. The individual's rights are thereby trampled in order to satisfy the aesthetic whims of the collective.

That's exactly what occurred Tuesday evening in the collectivist commune called Boulder, where the owners of an old cottage found themselves separated from their property rights on a 5-3 vote by City Council. Just like that, Boulder's Planning Board "will gain veto power over any plans they submit, and the proposed expansion will fall under more stringent standards" according to the Boulder Daily Camera. (Read the entire story here.) Even the city's historic preservation planner recommended against the action, arguing that designating the house a landmark didn't balance public and private interests. But the city went ahead anyway, depriving Michael and Michelle Clements of the ability to renovate the cottage as they see fit.

"The couple says they’ve already spent more than $100,000 fighting to build their dream home on the property, while maintaining all but a wooden addition to the cottage that was built in 1952," The Daily Camera reports.

Michelle Clements said at the meeting that the process she and her husband have had to endure so far has been “468 days of emotional and financial devastation.”

She told the council she’s had enough of the city’s process.

“We should have the comfort of knowing we can build without the heavy hand of government hanging over our heads,” she said."

But Americans can no longer enjoy that comfort -- which serves as the foundation for all the other rights and freedoms they hold dear -- when elected officials and appointed planning boards can use coercive historic preservation in this way. If such abuses of power can't be overturned in the courts, they should at least be condemned in the court of public opinion.

But where are the pickets? Where are the protests? Where are Boulder's indignant human rights activists now, when the most fundamental of civil rights -- the right to be secure in your person and possessions -- is being trampled by their elected officials, in their backyard? The silence is deafening -- and reveals a dark and disturbing blind spot in the collectivist mindset.

Given the way this city rolls over its residents, and crushes their rights, they don't call it Boulder for nothing.

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