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Lot Coverage: Theft of Property Rights, Arlington Style

The four-year fight against lot coverage restrictions, which began on June 30, 2001, is now scheduled to come to an end in November when the Arlington County Board considers the latest version of the County Manager's efforts to implement restrictions on property owners being pushed by a small coterie of so-called neighborhood "activists." If you thought your house is your home, guess again. As Adam Summers, a policy analyst at the Reason Foundation, writes in a von Mises Institute op-ed, "Property rights are in trouble just about everywhere. The latest trend hits an economic right Americans have traditionally taken for granted: the right to build or buy the biggest home you can afford." As the latest exhibit, he cites an "anti-mansionization" ordinance passed 11-0 by the Los Angeles City Council, which would prevent "smaller homes from being torn down and replaced by larger houses." He notes that one Councilwoman said, "Homes are being built larger than is necessary." Summers then appropriately asks, "But who is (she) to judge how large someone's home may be or what is best for the homeowner?" During its July 9 meeting, the Arlington County Board deferred further consideration of lot coverage until after the elections in November, but here is the County Manager's latest proposed ordinance (Adobe required) from that meeting. As Summers puts the question: "If 'activist' neighbors, politicians, and bureaucrats can place restrictions on what you can do with your property, do you really own your property?" (emphasis in the original)