Our View: Let property rights prevail - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Our View: Let property rights prevail

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Posted: Friday, September 19, 2008 10:53 pm | Updated: 10:22 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

As merely a guiding document having little in the way of the force of law, Tuesday's rather pointed City Council debate over proposed revisions to Scottsdale's 1984 Downtown Plan is a tempest in a teapot. It was another opportunity for council members to square off on local cable television over whether real estate developers receive too many favors (they don't) and whether residents' views always should be supreme considerations in zoning decisions (they shouldn't).

Lost in the bombast were some real considerations. As the Tribune's Brian Powell reported Thursday, Councilman Wayne Ecton correctly was concerned over whether city infrastructure such as water and sewer lines is or will be keeping up with growing development downtown.

Among city government's highest responsibilities are public health and safety, and more attention needs to be paid to making sure these vital services will be there to meet demand. And city government has an important, though limited, responsibility to approve uses for a property that are compatible with those reasonably proximate to it.

But, as usual, Tuesday's discussion went well beyond these areas.

One thing we observed while watching the council on TV was the attitude among some members that property rights are somehow granted by the city at the behest of voters. According to this belief, such rights thus may be doled out sparingly by elected officials sensitive to residents with chiefly aesthetic objections to the design and proliferation of proposed structures. Moreover, a property owner who dares propose something that might make money, even (gasp) a lot of it, if it is approved and built, should expect City Hall to rein him or her in.

We suggest council members reread the 14th Amendment, which affirms that nature, not the state, grants the rights to life, liberty and property. Only through due process of law may these rights be limited, not bestowed.

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