Now, who’d you say this Senate Bill 14 serves?

SB 14 (and companion legislation) has been touted as “a blow for individual rights” by the governor and the legislators who are carrying his water. You sure couldn’t tell it from testimony July 22 before the Business and Commerce Committee. Of 192 participants, 176 said they were against the bill, which prohibits local governments from practicing good environmental stewardship by outlawing efficient management of the Texas’ urban tree canopy.

For the bill? 16.

Of those 16 almost half represented organizations, including real estate, construction and apartment management organizations. Of those against, 82% were representing themselves.

Despite this overwhelming, opposition the bill cleared committee on a 6-3 vote.

So, If this legislation is designed to bolster individual rights, why are the vast majority of those who bothered to address the committee individuals … who apparently feel their personal rights are better served without SB14?

And what prompted the six members who voted to push the bill forward?

By |2017-07-28T04:29:03+00:00July 27th, 2017|property rights|0 Comments

Fee simple: Congrats. You own a bundle of sticks

In Texas — as in most states — real estate is conveyed to its owner under the concept of “fee simple,” or absolute ownership of the land and whatever is on it, in it or under it. It’s like a bundle of sticks and you can do what you want with all of ’em. Sort of.

In practice —  there are restrictions on what you can do with some of your sticks:

  • If there’s water under your property, you can dig a well and go get it … unless at any point it rises to the surface. Then it belongs to everyone in Texas.
  • You can’t buy a single-family lot and put up a 12-story hotel.
  • Most gated communities won’t let you raze a three-bedroom home and replace it with a yurt.
  • Slash and burn agriculture is prohibited in most residential neighborhoods.
  • So – in most communities – is buying tigers and elephants and opening a circus.

So it’s not unusual to see limits on the freedoms enjoyed by landowners. More than 50 cities in Texas choose to mitigate damage with restrictions on what an owner can do to his piece of the urban forest.  The question is who’s better suited to decide those  — your friends and neighbors or the State. And who’s most likely to enforce them.

By |2017-07-17T14:59:17+00:00July 16th, 2017|property rights|0 Comments
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