So You Think You Have Property Rights in This Country?

You do have property rights ... right up to the point where someone with political pull wants to change the use of your property.

In Tempe, AZ, an intersection has been empty for a number of years after a gas station went out of business.  A local entrepreneur acquired rights to the land to build a car wash.  The city approved all his various permits and he was just starting to build when a powerful local developer who owned a strip mall next door decided he did not want a car wash next door to his businesses, and sought to rally the local community against the car wash with fears of traffic and poisonous chemicals.  The result?

After nearly three hours of debate, the Tempe City Council revoked permits for a Quick Quack Car Wash planned at Baseline Road and McClintock Drive.

The Council Chamber was standing-room only Thursday as more than 40 residents spoke. Opponents were in the majority by a 3-to-1 margin.

The residents' concerns largely revolved around noise and traffic. Those residents in favor of the development said a car wash was an upgrade from the old gas station that use to be at the corner.

Michael Pollack, who owns the nearby Peter Piper Pizza Plaza along with other commercial properties in the East Valley, hired an attorney to appeal the city's Design Review Board decision to grant permits for the car wash.

"I have nothing against ducks," Pollack told the council. "I would love to see something that harmonizes with that area."

Like residents, Pollack was concerned about noise and how a car wash would impact property values — points that representatives from Quick Quack said were unfounded.

Of course they are being generous here to the real influencer, pretending that Pollack was merely one more person in the community with concerns rather than the person who likely organized much of the opposition.

By the way, here is the Mr. Pollack's super-lovely strip mall he is concerned about "harmonizing" with

Don Boudreaux has a great quote from Bastiat today that seems to apply:

Admit it, what is worrying you is right and justice; what is worrying you is ownership – not yours, of course, but that of others.  You find it difficult to accept that others are free to dispose of their property (the only way to be an owner); you want to dispose of your property . . . and theirs.



  1. The_Big_W:

    The guy whose car wash was blocked by Pollack should get one free punch at him for that vacuous and dishonest “I would love to see something that harmonizes” bullshit.

  2. Mike Powers:

    And as O'Rourke pointed out, "all government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are *us*."

  3. SamWah:

    Looks to me, from a considerable distance, that a car wash would fit right in.

  4. me:

    There's of course also asset forfeiture (scandalous in it's own right) and invoicing for medical care (ie costs that the individual has not consented to but that they are by law responsible for).

  5. irandom419:

    My dorm was next to a nuclear reactor, so nothing gets me overly excited.

  6. Baelzar:

    Wellp, looks like I'd have to start a soup kitchen for the homeless, or let people panhandle there, or maybe an unofficial illegal immigrant labor pool. Because FUCK that guy, that's why.

  7. Matthew Slyfield:

    Sounds like a really tacky brothel, Whores R Us. :)

  8. Matthew Slyfield:

    Just one?

  9. Fromhere:

    Excellent idea Balzar - I think a soup kitchen is a great use of his property.

  10. Stan Jackson:

    The answer is no, I don't think we have property rights. Towns routinely change zoning to exclude what they don't want, after some poor schmuck invests their life savings into the place. I've even seen them combine building lots to prevent any additional construction. (Bought the lot next door for your kid or an investment? Better put it in a different name!)The problem is exacerbated by all the personal immunity the local officials have, essentially allowing them to do what they want, even when it violates the law. You have the right to pay your taxes, and if you're late, they'll reach into any bank account you own and take the money. But it's okay, they sent you a certified letter!

  11. Ike Pigott:

    It is both the tawdriest collection of ne’er-do-wells and jacklegs you’ll ever encounter, and the best book on understanding American government you can read.

    The farm subsidy chapter has the greatest introduction ever.

  12. cc:

    You better pray no one declares your home or business to be a historic building, because then you can't upgrade or even repair it. The proper way to do historic preservation would be to buy the building or to offer incentives, but busy bodies like to simply force you to do their bidding.

  13. John O.:

    Short memories in government. I remember when Bailey's Brakes in Mesa was being acquired through emenent domain to build a city subsidized strip mall at the corner of Country Club Drive and Main Street in Downtown Mesa and the owner won against the city thanks to Institute for Justice.

    How is this not the same as that?

  14. Baelzar:

    My favorite part of Parliament of Whores:

    "The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 will end up costing every man, woman and child in America $2,000. Except it won't. Because not every man, woman and child in America pays taxes. Babies don't pay taxes. Old farts don't pay taxes. Rich shitpokes with high-hat tax lawyers don't pay taxes, and neither do those high-hat tax lawyers if they’re any good. Welfare chiselers don’t pay taxes, nor do drug addicts, drug dealers and people whom drug dealers have shot dead in the street. Corporations are famous for not paying taxes. Churches don’t have to pay taxes. And no taxes are paid by our unemployed, lay-about brothers-in-law, bum cousins, noodle- brained sisters who give all their money to EST and crazy uncles who are forever losing their shirts in business ventures such as "chat-eau — the catnip flavored blush wine for your cat.” That leaves you and me. We’re about the only people in America who pay our taxes. So when all’s said and done, this savings-and-loan bailout is going to cost us $250 billion apiece.

    No doubt you have various questions about the savings and loan industry and the nature of its financial difficulties and the type of legislation necessary to remedy the current problems and prevent their recurrence.


    A. Let me see if I can answer that as succintly as possible."

    I'd never laughed so hard in my life to that point.

  15. Ken in NH:

    There's already a damn car wash at the intersection. How do they think the Chevy dealership gets their cars clean? And talk about hazardous chemicals; brake fluid, brake parts cleaner, gasoline/diesel, used motor oil, bearing grease, degreaser, & c.

  16. Mike Powers:


  17. Rick C:

    Whoops--big shame about that pile of oily rags in the basement that spontaneously combusted. Good thing I upgraded my insurance several years ago.

  18. Tempe Jeff:

    I bet, if the Property Owner sold to Pollack; a Strip Club would be acceptable if the money was good. BTW, I live about 500 feet from this intersection. That Strip Mall is nothing fancy. Just, your standard Parking Lot and assorted stores. Good Barber Shop though...

  19. Tempe Jeff:

    Fry's Marketplace, on the opposing corner wanted to install a Gas Station several years ago. Now, I know who the jerk was who screwed THAT idea.

  20. crs44:

    What I find interesting are the concerns about traffic and noise. Which attracts more traffic? A gas station or a car wash? Which produces more noise? A gas station or a car wash? Did people complain about those two things when the gas station was there? Ridiculous.

  21. jimc5499:

    The city that I live in had a building on its main street catch fire a few years ago. The building was only damaged and the owners wanted to rebuild, but, there was a group who thought that the property could be put to a better use. They had the City Counsel hold up the building permit until the weather damaged the building beyond repair. Now it is a vacant lot.

  22. BernieFlatters:

    In a nearby community a carwash got built in a somewhat odd location, and there might have been some community opinion, but it got built. Now it is very popular. I asked the clerk what is the most cars they can process in one hour, and she said 100.

  23. C078342:

    We have a car wash in the middle of our fairly affluent village -- been there for years. On a warm winter day, do cars line up on Main Street to wait? Yes, Dies it matter? No. Before his permits can be revoked, cause must be demonstrated. Car washes are hardly an annoyance.