Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Encouraging Conflict

I love it when events emerge that brings a group of people to the point of challenging long-held, knee-jerk beliefs.

To this end, I've been watching the growing movement regarding food. While it certainly spans the political spectrum, I'm watching how it affects the left in particular, for the left tends to automatically demand regulation and zoning, insisting on limits on producer freedom in the name of safety and health.

But now people are wanting raw milk. Now they are wanting to grow food in the front yard instead of lawns. Now they want to have some chickens in their suburban backyards. They want these things often in the name of health, wanting to avoid the hormones often put into animals, or the pesticides in food. Or, they want to eliminate transportation and make food more green. Regulations and zoning are thwarting these desires in many areas.

For instance, selling raw milk in Indiana is illegal. If you want it, you can invest in 'cow shares', break the law, or go without. A Detroit area woman's story about facing jail for starting a garden in her front yard was big news last year.

Keeping chickens is coming into vogue. Zoning permits it in Indy, but not in Fishers where I live.

In speaking with local gardeners I am friends with in Fishers, several would like to raise chickens and/or garden in the front yard. They know the zoning is against them. In all likelihood, some will just break the law, while others will shrug with some disappointment and not raise the chickens or put rows of heirloom tomatoes out front. Eggs to all of your neighbors is an excellent form of 'hush money', I hear told.

My interest lies in seeing if those who want to be the law-abiding folks will press for elimination of zoning, changes to zoning, or variances. My hope is for elimination of zoning. I find that nothing tops talking with your neighbors with simple conversations to find if what you want to do would upset them. Now, we apply for permits, and don't talk to the neighbors. I prefer the former. These are the people you have to live with, not some plan reviewer in the Town building.

I suspect that we'll see tweaks in zoning, for the most part. My mother-in-law lives in uber-liberal Cleveland Heights, Ohio and was delighted at the their zoning changes, which cover everything from the food items to production of solar or wind energy on the home property. I'd accept this as a step in the right direction, but would prefer to see zoning eliminated, my home is my castle, screw the nanny state, and all.


Doug said...

Libertarians have never dealt well with the fact that actions you take on your property often have consequences that go beyond that property line. Talking to your neighbor is a great idea; but are you going to give your neighbor veto authority over your acts? If your neighbor is a tenant, who gets to make the decision for the neighboring property - the landlord whose property value goes down or the tenant or has to smell odors resulting from your use?

Zoning laws are an imperfect, but useful approach to the fact that one use has an impact on neighboring property uses. Residential users don't want to suddenly find themselves next to industrial users; and the reality is that if an industrial user moves in next door, the residential owner can't just up and leave - not least because there are likely to be fewer interested buyers because of the neighboring industrial use.

Mike Kole said...

Really? I talk to my neighbors, and while I don't give them veto power, I do take their opinions into consideration. As I said, I have to live next to them. So, when I planned by garden, I did ask. Same with planting trees. That's respect. I'm not sure how that is 'not dealing well'.

The flip is the resident who doesn't talk to his neighbors, goes to the city and gets a permit, builds a horrid 6' solid fence, and when you say something to him responds with, "Well, I got a permit, and it complies with zoning", which is akin to, "fuck you, he reasoned". I have experienced this latter.

There is no utopia, no perfect. I'm seeing which method is more respectful. We may have rhetoric that speaks to the absolute, and desires towards same, but we tend to live in the real world. Hell- we don't have a single thing that's 100% our way. We're used to lives of compromise.

Al said...

Mike you may be interested in my friend The Ghetto Libertarian's post along a similar subject.

Do you REALLY own property?