Do You Really Own Your Property?
We were told, point blank, that we don’t, by a local government employee.
Here’s the story. In the tiny town we live in, apparently there have been an increasing number of code violations regarding, among other things, people parking cars on their lawns, off the driveway. My wife, returning from our town’ s annual Christmas parade, was pulling up to our house with plans to park on the street in front of our house for the moment. She saw a Code Enforcement car coming down our dead-end street, and parked a little bit further off to the side, thinking that maybe this officer might be concerned that she was blocking too much of the street. In doing this, about 1/3 of the tire width was actually on the grass; a few inches.
When the Code Enforcement office turned around and came back down our street, he rolled his window down and said to my wife that, FYI, he was patrolling for, among other thing, cars on lawns and that, technically, he could cite her for her current parking situation, but wouldn’t this time. In the ensuing conversation, he told her a number of very odd things.
Now, I understand if a community doesn’t want to live in an area where people regularly park on their lawns. I can see erosion issues, and I can understand that this could lead to people who turn their property into auto mechanic yards. He mentioned that cars can leak fluid and it would get into the water supply. (Of course, those leaks from a car on the road would wind up in the storm drain where it would go directly into the lake behind our house, unfiltered by the ground. But he didn’t seem to realize that.) The community decides that it will make certain rules about how you keep your property, and you might get fined for breaking these rules, but it’s still your property. Not according to this guy. In his mind, since the government can create restrictions on what you can do, then it’s not your property. You only have the license to use it. He didn’t go into who actually owns it or who you’re licensing it from, but he was quite clear that our ownership of the property was an illusion.
And, since I can’t, for instance, use my house as a factory, then I don’t really own that, either.
Now, my guess is this is just one, incredibly misinformed, random government worker we ran into. But still, is this indicative of a bigger issue regarding what government thinks? Perhaps folks at higher levels still do, in fact, understand the concept of private property, and that having regulations on the use of something doesn’t mean the regulatory body owns it. But really, this is unbelievable.
I can be put in jail for child abuse. Wonder what this guy thinks about my kids.