Understanding Property Rights

Understanding Property Rights


“The right of property is the guardian of every other right and to deprive a people of this is, in fact, to deprive them of their liberty.”  ~ Arthur Lee, Virginia, 1775

Our rights to life, liberty and property existed before there were laws. Laws were created to protect our inherent rights to life, liberty and property. Law should be nothing more than the organized protection of the individual’s right to self-defense.

Respect for and protection of our rights to life, liberty and property are key to maintaining peace in the community and achieving prosperity.

Property rights

Our property is the manifestation of an individual’s time, energy and talent.

What property rights means is that an owner has the right to use their property as he or she wishes, without harming the rights of the neighbors or the public.

We have the most freedom when we respect the inherent rights of others.

Rights and responsibilities

People should have all of the rights and responsibilities that came with the property when they purchased it.

The government cannot be allowed to change the terms and conditions under which people purchased their property unless it has written permission from the property owner or justly compensates the owner(s).


Planning can be good

Government planning of land and activities that the government owns or controls, such as roads, public safety etc, is proper and necessary. The public review of projects is also good, because a possible violation of the rights of neighbors or the public can be exposed.



“Sustainable development” and “smart growth” are “feel-good-terms” that refer to the government’s gradual acquisition of our property rights. The first step in changing a point of view is to redefine the terms and insure that the new terminology feels good.

Give an inch

Any form of compromise on property rights is one step closer to government take over of our liberty. That’s how progressivism works – one inch at a time, and if you give them one inch, they have accomplished their agenda for today.

“Progressives” ask for much more than they expect to gain and then, when opposition builds, give in a little and play the good guy, willing to concede. The Progressives accept the so called “compromise”, having gained some ground – not all they ultimately wanted, but more than they had before. They will ask for the world and then give in a little when the opposition begins to show strength. We “compromise” but they put nothing on the table. When we give an inch, we are not compromising, we are forfeiting some of our rights. They have nothing to lose. If they fail, they are no worse off than when they started. When they obtain only a small portion of what they demanded, they are still ahead of the game. We need to start insisting that the government give up a large chunk of power and we must expect THEM to compromise.

Walking trails

Walking trails, bike paths, open space and other amenities are popular goals and those who value those aims can dedicate their life’s work to those ends. However, to force some to work for the ideology of others is wrong. The best way to provide for these amenities is by agreement with the property owners, not force of law.


America is not a Democracy. America is a Republic, governed by law – but not just any law, law that is anchored in the principle that our inherent rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable, i.e. not subject to the whims of government officials or popular majorities.

Democracies have consistently ended in tragedy

Just compensation

Property owners must agree to ANY restrictions put on their land and be justly compensated for those restrictions placed on their lands that were not there when they purchased the land – and by justly compensated, I mean compensated in a way that is in the best interest of the individual property owner, not in the best interest of the county.

Under the Constitution, no one can infringe on the rights of another. When land must be taken for a legitimate public purpose such as roads, the owner is paid just compensation.

Property owners must be justly compensated for the loss of their property rights – and compensated in a way that is in the best interest of the property owner – regardless of the county’s financial state. Poverty is no excuse to steal.

The county must not change the rules after people have already put their money down, unless the county first obtains permission from the property owner or, if there is dire need, justly compensate the property owner.


Taking a percentage

Changing land use designations on property without the permission of the property owners is, in reality, taking a percentage of the owners’ property – a kind of bait and switch. While there may be some convoluted law contrived to support this practice, it goes against the principles our country was founded on.




Consensus invalid

“Visioning meetings”, consensus, special committees and community outreach are the wrong methods to use when making changes to land use designations because these decisions need to be made with the individual property owner(s) and the people affected.

Even if there was a clear majority, a majority does not have the right to vote away the rights of even one property owner.

Visioning of how others are to use and develop their property tends to be an authoritarian approach to planning and can have many unintended consequences. A local General Plan is authorizing the use of police power and we must be careful to protect the liberties of the citizens.

Group desires must not be allowed to take precedence over the rights of the individual.

Water and sewer

Water and sewer are the responsibility of the property owners.


Protection of property rights does not lead to anarchy, for example: building a rendering plant or wrecking yard in a residential neighborhood.  The protection of property rights extends to all property owners.


We must keep in mind that the American form of government, unlike any other, is based on the freedom of individuals to make the important choices in their lives. When the property owners make mistakes in planning they are always responsible for the consequences. On the other hand, when the group makes a mistake in planning, there is little to no accountability.


Big Government

Forms of government where the group makes decisions for the individual, oppress freedom of the individual. History has proven that these forms of government tend to produce poverty and despotism.

Protecting freedom = peace

Our Founding Fathers knew that the respect for and protection of our fundamental rights are key to maintaining peace in the community and achieving prosperity. That is the reason they saw to it that the Constitution protected our right to use our property as we please, provided we do not harm the rights of others.

The express purpose of our government is to protect our rights, and in so doing, the peaceful atmosphere of our communities.

Limited government

The Founders wrote a Constitution to establish a government that would receive limited power from the consent of the people and that limited power it received was for the express purpose of securing our inherent rights.  The Constitution was written to keep the government from prancing all over our rights.

Property is the fruit of our labor

We work hard for our paycheck. That paycheck is our money. With the money we earn, we buy property; property in the form of food, clothes, transportation, housing and groceries. What we earn is literally the fruit of our labor.


Our elected Officials have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and are duty bound to sustain our Republic which protects our fundamental rights to life, liberty and property against the whims of the current popular trends.


George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, wrote:

“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”


Calaveras County changing land use

On Aril 20, 2010 the Board of Supervisors chose a hybrid of alternatives B & C for the Calaveras General Plan. These alternative change land use designations without property owners’ permission. Some people may be losing their right to build an accessory building (in-law quarters) under the current proposal. Other people in the county, wishing to enjoy the country life, who intentionally purchased property in low density areas, may find themselves suddenly living in areas designated for much higher density. Others, who invested the fruit of their labor in property on which they had the right to develop and perhaps sell later to fund their retirement, may lose those rights. Business owners, who bought commercial property, may find that their property can no longer be sold as commercial, as they had counted on.


President Grover Cleveland

President Grover Cleveland was a devoted Christian and saw the notion of taking from some to give to others as a violation of the Eighth and Tenth Commandments, which warn against theft and envy. He noted that the Bible does not say: “Thou shalt not steal unless the other guy has more than you do, or unless a government representative does it for you, or unless you can’t find anyone who will give it to you freely, or unless you’re totally convinced you can spend it better than the guy to whom it belongs.”

Grover Cleveland was a very wise and very courageous President.

In 1887, Congress passed a bill to appropriate money for Texas farmers during the severe drought. Grover Cleveland (who was a Democrat) responded to Congress:

“I feel obliged to withhold my approval of the plan, as proposed by this bill, to indulge a benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of public funds for that purpose. I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people.

“The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of common brotherhood.”

As it turns out, the people donated 10 times the amount that had been proposed in the bill.

These concepts were gathered by Tonja Dausend from the “Declaration of Independence”, the “Constitution of the United States”, the book “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat, “The Philosophy of Liberty” by Ken Schoolland, Judge Andrew Napolitano, “Overview of American Form of Government”, by the John Birch Society, Calaveras Taxpayers Association and “Jetgraphics” who is a contributor to CitiData.