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Where do you draw that line?

maximov

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
How lovely to have a forum which presumably allows ignoramuses (ignorami?) like me to blather on about stuff we know nothing about right in front of a bunch of experts! Are we allowed to ask broad philosophical questions? I'm just gonna jump in. It seems to me that some municipal decision-makers in my part of the world (ironically, even some planning commissioners) don't believe in planning. They, of course, are at one extreme. In others, a sometimes rabid impulse to protect private property rights is almost impossible to reconcile with the undeniable benefits that planning and zoning give in quality of life and property values; I watch them, and feel their agony, poor suckers. Then there are those highly unpopular people at the other extreme (rare in my world). I must say, I still find myself confused sometimes about where the line should be drawn, but I guess I've switched camps, either because I have gotten older or maybe because I've moved to a place I really love. Maybe this is only an issue for those who are uneducated in the field, but I sure would like to know what people here think, especially those for whom planning is a profession (any of you professionals out there who don't believe in planning? lol). What do you say to the guy who thinks he should be allowed absolute freedom in the use of his land?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
31
In one county I worked, after a debate about subdibvision regs, the Planning Commission chair announced that he was appointed to stop such communistic plots.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
maximov said:
What do you say to the guy who thinks he should be allowed absolute freedom in the use of his land?

I say he should buy an island unaffiliated with any governmental jurisdiction.

Sorry, but the usual argument applies, if he wants to do anything he wants to with his land, he has to be prepared for the neighbors to do the same.

I once had a county commissioner say, in the middle of a zoning/plan amendment hearing, as he slouched his redneck ass down in his seat and propped his redneck cowboy boots up on the dais "Ya cain't tell a man what to do with his own land". Thank god the idiot wasn't re-elected. Thank god nobody called the state planning agency.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,452
Points
34
Zoning Goddess said:
Sorry, but the usual argument applies, if he wants to do anything he wants to with his land, he has to be prepared for the neighbors to do the same.

That really is the best argument. You can always insert, how would you feel if your neighbor did .......... (insert most common LULU)
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
If you do pursue your certificate in ERM, when you take those two law classes, you will get to look at such issues in some detail when you study "takings" law. In any group situation of any kind, there is always tension between what benefits the group and what benefits any particular individual. It gets tricky to protect both individual and group rights but I think you have to strive to do both in order to do either.

After you study all the laws, etc, really it comes down to good human judgment. No matter what the law books say, how they get applied is very much a human exercise. There are a lot of laws on the books that are obsolete but never got repealed. You sometimes trip across lists of them in some magazine (like Reader's Digest) because they are kind of funny. Last I heard, some place still has a law on the books that you have to have a crier ringing a bell walking in front of your car so you don't startle the horses. B-) Obviously, no one is enforcing it and it gets broken every single day. :)

I think a criminologist visited one of my college classes when I was about 19. He talked about all the archaic and ridiculous laws on the books in Georgia concerning sex. Many of them are also routinely ignored as if they don't exist -- until some violent serial rapist or child abuser gets hauled into court. Then they drag out every law they can find and charge him on 147 counts for every time he touched his latest victim. (Just about anything but Missionary Position with the lights out is illegal in the state of Georgia. I think they basically tried to outlaw actually enjoying yourself. )
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
Having conducted many planning meetings in S Utah and other similar places, I have to say that it is not enough to simply point out that your neighbors can do with their land whatever you can do with yours. There are a lot of reasons that is not necessarily an effective argument, at least upfront.

Many rural Utahns, Idahoans, etc. grew up in a world of poverty or near poverty, complemented by boredom, and have a hard time imagining any change being for the worse. In fact, most of them assume that any period of prosperity will not last long. Peoples' perception of their community's economy is set at an early age and will not change unless someone makes a conscious effort to help them do so (and even then many people will continue living in the past). This exacerbated at the present time by a national administration that works hard to encourage folks to live in the past. Another web site you should visit is the Sonoran Institute's. SI makes a point of showing people how conservation and prosperity are now connected.

Many rural landowners feel that any chance at some prosperity is unlikley and therefore are going to resist planning even when they know very well that their neighbors could make their life a mess. After all, Westerners are not well rooted and if they have some money, they are very likely to move on, leaving any mess they created behind. I have quite frequently had rural Westerners tell me that if their neighbor creates a problem, it is their responsibility to pack up and move, not his.

There are also people, and I imagine that Virgin has some, who have essentially been driven out of other places by their inability to get along with their neighbors. There are occasional exceptions, but most of them aren't going to change just because they have come to a beautiful place.

Fighting these tendencies is hard, indeed it is impossible in some places (I was just thinking of Garfield County, UT). But you have to change peoples' perception of their own self-interest. And you have to start where their heads are at, not where yours is!
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Lee Nellis said:
There are also people, and I imagine that Virgin has some, who have essentially been driven out of other places by their inability to get along with their neighbors. There are occasional exceptions, but most of them aren't going to change just because they have come to a beautiful place.

Fighting these tendencies is hard, indeed it is impossible in some places (I was just thinking of Garfield County, UT). But you have to change peoples' perception of their own self-interest. And you have to start where their heads are at, not where yours is!
Lee you make some excellent points.

I would like to add that not only do you have to start with where their heads are at, you must also start where their hearts are. Anyone doing "grass roots" work has to deal with people first and foremost as human beings and has to set the bar very high for continuing to treat them humanely, only giving up on winning them over after it becomes very clear that they are simply unreachable. People doing grass roots work cannot afford to take "the big stick" approach very often. Saying "how would you like it if your neighbor did X?" can come across as a powerplay and a threat -- especially if you are dealing with people who never fit in anywhere else.

Such people have no incentive to "go along to get along" because going along never resulted in them getting along and it also never met any of their own needs. The way to reach such people is to make them feel warmly welcomed, respected, and genuinely cared for. They will be skeptical at first, since they may not have ever experienced something like that, and it will take time for them to come around. But after you earn the trust and respect of someone who is so wounded, they can be fiercely loyal. When you bring civilized and civilizing behavior and values to people who have known nothing but rejection and personal injustices their whole lives, they are not going to initially believe you. But once they see that it doesn't evaporate the second you get what you want and that you hold to this standard even if you personally disagree with someone or dislike them, the effect is powerful.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I usually speak of the idea of "tenants of the crown" and how you don't actually own the land, just the right to ocupy it as provided for by law and land grants.

Of course, remember that this is a canadian answer.
 

maximov

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
Thank you all for talking about this. mike gurnee: you made me laugh out loud. Then when I got to Zoning Goddess' story I quit laughing, as we hear that same statement at nearly every town meeting from someone in the audience or on the board. As far as actual law goes, the few takings cases I have read seem a little contradictory; I can't see how they add up to a clear standard (no doubt, a bit too much to ask!). Lee's points are a little disheartening but ring very true; any change at all is good as far as some residents are concerned (a sad reflection of their level of contentment). However, I am pretty dedicated to finding compromises and getting feedback from as many people as possible, especially since I have a stubborn belief that we really all want the same things when it comes right down to it (except, maybe, for non-resident outsiders looking only to make a profit). I have downloaded some things from the SI site; thanks! MZ, I like your approach, and I am not a fan of the Big Stick. Donk: you are lucky to be where such an idea doesn't get you tossed out; thanks, but I think it would get me in deep trouble!
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
As for takings, it may not make much sense to read about a specific case, but the debate behind it when you study it in class should cast more light on it. It did for me.
 
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