January 04, 2008

Restaurateur to Central Planners: Take Your Business Elsewhere

Remind me to eat often at the new Falcone's Pizzeria in Edmond. You gotta love any private-property owner who tells bureaucratic nannies where to stick it.

The Associated Press reports that "the owner of a new Italian eatery in Edmond says a handful of city officials aren't welcome at his restaurant. Owner Danny Falcone has erected a sign at Falcone's Pizzeria and Deli saying Edmond Planning Commissioners Suzy Thrash and Ingrid Young and attorney Lydia Lee should stay off his property and take their business elsewhere.

"Falcone takes issue with the women for their complaints against him putting up tri-colored awnings at his business that represent the colors of the Italian flag. The Edmond Planning Commission in October voted against Falcone's awning plan, followed by a no vote from the city council in November."

Unfortunately, Edmond has never had a shortage of self-appointed aesthetes who think they should tell the rest of us what to do. ("Honestly now, Thurston, who do these people think we are -- Del City?") More than 11 years ago in a column in The Oklahoman regarding the proposed 157-foot cross at I-35 and 2nd Street, I pointed out that it's not unusual for central "planners" to violate property rights, and that Edmond's planners don't seem to trust the plans of individual property owners, entrepreneurs, and consumers in this free country of ours.
Edmond's paternalistic politicians don't seem to understand that the proper function of government is to secure our God-given rights, such as the right to property. Granted, health and safety concerns may necessitate some zoning, but Job One is to respect and secure the citizens' unalienable right to acquire, possess, use, protect, and dispose of private property.

Many politicians don't grasp the importance of property rights. They "question the need" for a 157-foot cross on MetroChurch's property, saying they "don't want anything visually obtrusive" in a stretch of property "the city has envisioned for commercial and high-tech uses." (They question the need? They don't want? The city has envisioned? Whose property is this, fellas?)

They think the cross "would change the direction of economic development" in Edmond. (You'll recall that politicians and bureaucrats can direct "economic development" better than property owners, businessmen, investors, and consumers.)

The MetroChurch cross issue is really a property rights issue. Hopefully, Edmond's city councilmen will remember why they were elected in the first place: to secure the rights of property owners -- not to trample them. Otherwise, what they're really asserting is, "Ultimately, property is owned by the government. We will allow citizens to use it so long as they pay their rent (property tax), serve the public interest, and don't improve the property in a way we deem unsuitable."
For now, hats off to Danny Falcone and Falcone's Pizzeria and Deli. As for the uppity central planners, let them eat cake.