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Please begin with an informative title:

I have a love of living systems - whether the systems inside our own bodies or the living systems of the biosphere in which we live.  I believe that the answers to the problems in our society can be found in the synergy and resilience of the systems both within and without us.  

Yesterday an article from Utah's Libertas Institute caught my attention: http://libertasutah.org/... and this is my response.  (Quotes from the article are italicized.)

At the beginning of the article it states:
Property rights require that an owner may do with their property as they please, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of other individuals.

Renting private property out necessitates the involvement of other members of the community.  Therefore, it has the potential of infringing on the rights of other individuals.  It also creates a power structure whereby the landlord has more power than the tenant -- has the ability to deprive the tenant of the use of the property.  There are also some possible underlying power structures whereby the tenant has the potential power to diminish the value of the property so rented.  These power structures can create social tension, requiring mediation, use of the courts, etc.

The application, the fee, and the inspection may seem very reasonable to some, but if the city can require a $65 fee, then presumably it could require a $650 fee or a $6,500 fee.

This article treats the city as if it were some sort of outside behemoth rather than the administration of the local community, as organized on the principles of a democratic republic, wherein the property is located.  The property owners, as owner of property in the community, are able to influence the administration of the community, the fee structure, etc., they are able to petition their neighbors to change any policies or fees that are not beneficial to the community at large.  Likewise, the community is able to impose fees and controls if the community determines that this is necessary for the communal good.  As long as all stakeholders are invited to the process, and it proceeds in a democratic fashion as outlined by the local community's charter, and is able to be revised through democratic processes,  I see no incongruity in this.

This article seems to say that property owners have rights to act completely out of accordance with the greater community in which they reside when utilizing their property in a way that interacts with the greater community.  All I can say is, hunh?

In other words, the city is selectively discriminating against property owners that choose to rent their property out. The landscaping and nuisance ordinances would presumably apply to any property owner, but it becomes obvious that the city is carrying out special inspections against certain property owners for arbitrary reasons.

Generally, city governments (especially small ones) tend to be very close to their cities.  I would bet money (and I abhor betting) that if we looked a little deeper we would find recent, specific problems in this community with rental properties that became examples of community blight...otherwise, no one would have bothered their time with passing the ordinance.  (In my city, it is legal to have chickens and small livestock on my property -- as long as my neighbors don't mind.)  The only reason for this ordinance would be because the community is responding to a given problem -- and asking the landlords of these properties to perform their civic duty and take care of them.  If the landlords feel oppressed by this, they are welcome to create a community of landlords, pay their own dues to this community, and self-police their own little community of landlords so that the city doesn't need to do this job for them.  At that point they could redress the city government to rescind or rethink the ordinance in light of the fact that the problem it addressed has been resolved.  However, this isn't going to relieve the landlords of community oversight -- it is simply going to make the community closer to home, and more capable of catering to the specific needs of landlords.  

Part D of 3-1H-3 exempts “a rental dwelling unit which is ordinarily owner occupied but is temporarily rented because: 1. The owner is placed in the hospital, nursing home, assisted living center, or similar facility, or 2. The owner has a bona fide, temporary absence of three (3) years or less for activity such as temporary job assignments, sabbaticals, or voluntary service. Indefinite periods of absence from the dwelling shall not qualify for this exemption.”

Wow, that is really awesome.  Whoever crafted this ordinance was actually trying to mitigate unintended consequences.  Kudos.

If private property rights triumph over community rights, we're going to end up with widespread poverty and a destroyed environment that can no longer sustain us.  (Wait...that is already happening.)  We must have balance.  We must care-take to cultivate personal liberty, while at the same time recognizing that the individual cannot exist without the greater community, and that every individual needs to recognize that there are two imperatives: (1) survival of the individual, and (2) survival of the community.  These imperatives work hand in glove, and are complementary to each other.  These are not competing values.


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