The California Coastal Commission sought to tear down a fence on private property. The fence, on the property of Martin and Janis Burke in Torrance, California, marks the boundary between public land and private land.
This seems like a benign enough purpose. The “private” part of “private property” means you get to keep people off your property, no?
The fence also serves a wider public purpose. It stops hikers from climbing to an unstable bluff at which two people have actually died. Remove the fence and it become easier to veer off public property, easier to reach the unstable bluff, easier to die.
The story appears to be another case of bureaucrats with too much time on their hands, too eager to interfere in the lives of others in the name of some value allegedly superior to individual rights. In this case, even to individual lives.
Fortunately, the Pacific Legal Foundation, representing the Burkes, recently won a victory over the commission. A California court says the commission lacks the authority to force the fence down.
J. David Breemer, Principal Attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, notes that the foundation has a track record of deflecting the excesses of the California Coastal Commission.
One moral of the story: Property rights are a “good fence” against the predations of abusive government. They, too, should be allowed to stand.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.