Who Should Decide the Public Interest
Michael deHaven Newsom
mnewsom at LAW.HOWARD.EDU
Fri Jul 20 15:46:26 PDT 2001
Marci, homeowners are not morons. They are acting in what they perceive
to be their rational self-interest when they seek to control who has
access to their neighborhoods. The problem is that there is some
question as to whether the broader society ought to allow homeowners to
indulge their self-interest.
Marci, you accuse a bunch of people of being "one-sided" but I would ask
you for concrete examples that disprove the belief of many of us that
classist, racist self-interest fairly describes a substantial majority
of American homeowners. For example, can you give us examples of what I
would call, for want of a better term, homeowner altruism? Can you
refer me to cases where typical American homeowners have openly welcomed
people of different socio-economic, cultural, religious, racial and
ethnic backgrounds into their neighborhoods? Do you really want us to
believe that cases like Mount Laurel are out of touch with the real
beliefs and actions of suburban homeowners? Do you think that the
spatial racial segregation in housing is simply a matter of personal
preference as Clarence Thomas would have us believe? (See Jenkins)
I grant you that real estate values and the safety of one's children
preoccupy the thinking of most people. That's the problem. And it is
not one-sided to point out that those concerns harm some other people.
I strongly support racial, cultural, social and ethnic housing
integration. I believe that ghettoes, gilded or otherwise are an
abomination. But I also know that I am in the distinct minority in
holding to such a view.
We're not talking "one-sidedness" here, we are simply talking truth.
The sad fact is that the truth is one-sided -- it's called NIMBY.
Marci Hamilton wrote:
> With all due respect to Rick, nee Publius, I do not buy the notion
> that those
> seeking residential neighborhoods are trying to wall themselves off
> from the
> "great unwashed." It is au courant to typecast homeowners as
> self-interested, self-centered morons, to treat traffic as a
> "pretext," and
> to assume that all zoning boards are 9 cents short of a dime. The
> RLUIPA legislative history is rife with it.
> But it is only one-sided. There was no attempt whatsoever to bring
> into the
> mix the core concerns of Congress's homeowning
> safety and the value of the single most important investment in their
> lives--their homes. As a matter of fact, religious uses have the
> capacity to
> harm both.
> This is where the purely libertarian perspective breaks down. Which
> offers more liberty: the scenario where the kids can play in their
> yards without fear or the scenario where the homeless shelter, which
> inevitably attracts the emotionally disabled or addicted, operates 24
> hours/day in a residential neighborhood? To make all of these needs
> zoning and zoning boards categorize and spread out uses.
> As to Rick's statement that I trust zoning boards too much, I don't
> anyone who holds power--whether it is a government official or a
> group in the social mix. But I am equally unpersuaded by any
> argument that
> assumes that ALL those exercising power under a certain rubric, e.g.,
> use , never serve the public interest. If no collection of
> individuals can
> serve the greater good, then the system of representation in this
> country, a
> system from which zoning boards are drawn, should be tossed out. I
> those who can come up with a better system than the one in place to
> serve the
> greatest good--it is surely not the system of religious preferences in
> land use context instituted by RLUIPA.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Religionlaw