Land Wars: The Politics of Property and Community

Land Wars: The Politics of Property and Community

Land Wars: The Politics of Property and Community

Land Wars: The Politics of Property and Community

Synopsis

This text presents two strongly held, but diametrically opposed, views of appropriate uses for land. The authors demonstrate that the debate about land use is messy, complex and often based on misguided principles.

Excerpt

Land use is no local matter. in this book, our goal is to explain and challenge the apparently platitudinous but deeply controversial localist claim. the claim is apparently platitudinous because of the nature of land itself. in some respects, land is the most local of entities: the unmovable substrate on which communities settle and build. It is the place where people live, work, and play, where they are born, where they worship, and where they bury their dead. When people move, their land does not travel with them. the claim of localism for land is also apparently platitudinous because land use decisionmaking in Western democracies has traditionally been undertaken principally by local entities. At the same time, the claim of localism for land is—and should be—deeply controversial. Land use decisions have far-reaching effects on the memories of emigrants, on the hopes of tourists and immigrants, and on the fortunes of those near and far who depend on the land's resources or are otherwise affected by how the land is used.

In current discussions of land use, two localist paradigms predominate. the first is the localism of property rights: that owners' voices should control what is done with land. the second is the localism of spatially defined community: that those who live on or near the land should have the most to say about its governance. We contend in this book that each of these localisms is far too simplistic. Land use decisionmaking, like land itself, is messy and complex. It should be treated as a balance of competing and interrelated move-

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