OPINION: Property codes protect investments, prevent blight

In working with communities over the years, I often come across local communities that pride themselves in having no property restrictions, zoning, or permitting laws. Experience tells me this is nothing to take pride in. In fact, it is a death sentence. Those communities are usually the ones mired in poverty, a lack of progress, and losing their youth at a faster rate.

Communities often find themselves at the intersection of progress and preservation. Our homes are more than just structures; they represent our investments, dreams, and commitment to a flourishing neighborhood. Local property rights ensure our investments' longevity and maintain a community's beauty. It is important to understand property rights are designed to protect our investments and prevent the encroachment of blight that could potentially lower property values.

Property rights are a cornerstone of our legal system; they serve as a shield for homeowners and investors alike. They establish a framework that empowers individuals to control, use, and transfer their properties as they see fit within the bounds of the law. This autonomy is not merely about personal preferences; it's about safeguarding the significant financial investments we make in our homes. By having the right to determine our properties' use and condition, we can ensure that our investments appreciate rather than depreciate over time.

One of the primary concerns that property rights address is the potential threat of blight. Blight can take various forms, ranging from abandoned properties and neglected structures to unauthorized land use that disrupts the harmony of the community. When left unchecked, blight has the potential to spread like wildfire, diminishing the appeal of our neighborhoods and causing a decline in property values. Local property rights are designed to counteract this threat, offering a solid defense against blight and its detrimental effects.

Through zoning regulations and property maintenance codes, local property rights provide a set of guidelines that govern the use and upkeep of properties within our communities. When used correctly, these regulations are not meant to stifle individual creativity or impose arbitrary rules; rather, they exist to create a shared standard that ensures the entire community's well-being. By setting expectations for property maintenance and land use, these rights act as a protective barrier, preventing blight from taking root and lowering the overall property values in our neighborhoods.

Consider the impact of a well-maintained property versus an abandoned one. The former contributes to the community's aesthetic appeal, fostering a positive atmosphere that attracts potential buyers and investors. On the contrary, blighted properties can act as a blight magnet, inviting further neglect and deterring potential homeowners. By upholding property rights, we collectively commit to maintaining the value of our investments and preserving the visual integrity of our neighborhood.

Furthermore, property rights empower local authorities to intervene when necessary, acting against those who neglect their properties and contribute to blight. Code enforcement and property maintenance regulations enable our communities to address issues proactively, preventing the escalation of problems that could otherwise lead to decreased property values. This demonstrates the collective responsibility we share for the well-being of our communities and ensures that no individual's actions compromise the investments of others.

It's essential to recognize that enforcing property rights is not an arbitrary exercise of authority but a collective effort to foster a vibrant and thriving community. The land use and property maintenance decisions are rooted in a shared vision for the future -- one in which our community continues to flourish, property values appreciate, and our investments remain secure. This collaborative approach is a testament to our commitment to each other and the enduring value of our homes.

Local community property rights are not restrictive measures meant to curtail individual freedoms; they are proactive ways to protect our investments and prevent the encroachment of blight. By upholding these rights, we ensure that our community remains a desirable place to live, work, and invest. With a collective commitment to property rights, we build a foundation for sustained growth, preserving the beauty and value of our community for generations to come.

John Newby is a nationally recognized columnist, speaker and publisher. He consults with chambers, communities, businesses and media. His "Building Main Street, not Wall Street" column appears in 60-plus newspapers and media outlets. He can be reached at [email protected]. Opinions expressed are those of the author.