Losing our property rights

Almost daily now we are witnessing and experiencing continued erosion of our personal property rights. For decades, those of us who chose to make our homes and businesses in the borough did so because of the freedom it gave us to pursue our own lifestyles, dreams and hopes with only minimal government regulation.

Most of the borough residents who do not live in areas that are restricted by covenants, conditions and restrictions (CCRs) also made the conscious decision to do so based on their own personal qualifiers. If you are one of these folks, you know what I am talking about. You wanted to build your own home or buildings with your own hands and those of your sons and daughters. You wanted to garden and raise animals. Maybe start a small business on your own land. You realized that to live in the city or in a “zoned” area required that you live by specific government regulations and ordinances that would impact your ability to do what you wished on your own property.

For our city friends and neighbors, and those who live in “zoned” areas, they chose to live there, based on the comfort of knowing that everyone would be restricted and controlled as to what they could or could not do on their own property. This is a fundamental right of any individual to choose what they deem appropriate for their own property.

Now we are witnessing a slow and steady creep of government regulations over the rights of borough property owners. Despite the highly contentious and bitter annexation battle between the city of Soldotna and its borough neighbors during 2005-2008, Soldotna City Council has resurrected this land grab, and are in “full steam ahead mode,” disregarding the overwhelming majority of borough residents who are opposed to this. Annexation without the consent of those who are to be annexed is an anathema to the democratic process. The Soldotna City Council has been questioned at their meetings about which form of the annexation process they will use, but they will not provide an answer. To think that a city council has not defined an endgame strategy in an issue of this magnitude is ridiculous. They are either trying to dupe the public or are making a gross administrative blunder. Either way, it is not transparent and open as they claim to be.

Now the Borough Assembly has in front of them an ordinance (2016-03) that will greatly impact every single borough resident who owns property. The scope of this ordinance is too extensive for this piece, but in a nutshell it will effectively destroy the freedoms that currently exist for property owners. Take the time to read this ordinance and understand what exactly will happen to you and your property rights if this passes. Our elected officials hear overwhelming opposition against any more zoning regulations, yet some of them continue pushing this ahead.

We already have laws and regulations in place for property owners to resolve issues that may arise. We have subdivisions that are free to create their own CCRs, so the individuals who choose to live there have a time proven method to resolve violations without our borough being the court and enforcer. We do not need our borough pitting neighbor against neighbor with more and more zoning regulations and enforcement.

The continued erosion of our property rights saddens me. Many of us moved here, both to Alaska and also to the borough, to be able to live a bit more freely than our Lower 48 friends and families. Now we are constantly fighting to keep these basic rights. Not everyone wants to live in a subdivision, so we didn’t buy property there. We like the freedom and diversity of living in the country and want to be able to keep that way of life.

If we, as borough residents, truly value the freedom and independence that we currently have, then we must not sit idly by while a few prepare to over-regulate, tax, and force us to live as they deem we must. Attend borough and city meetings, contact your borough assembly person, attend workshop sessions, make phone calls, write emails, volunteer, do what you can. Otherwise, the property freedoms we have today will soon become a distant memory.