Property Wrongs

by Conor Friedersdorf

In Montgomery, Alabama, government officials are destroying the property of poor people:

Imagine you come home from work one day to a notice on your front door that you have 45 days to demolish your house, or the city will do it for you.  Oh, and you’re paying for it.

This is happening right now in Montgomery, Ala., and here is how it works: The city decides it doesn’t like your property for one reason or another, so it declares it a “public nuisance.”  It mails you a notice that you have 45 days to demolish your property, at your expense, or the city will do it for you (and, of course, bill you).

Your tab with the city will constitute a lien on your property, and if you don’t pay it within 30 days (or pay your installments on time; if you owe over $10,000, you can work out a deal to pay back the city for destroying your home over a period of time, with interest), the city can sell your now-vacant land to the highest bidder.

ABC News has more. And the Institute for Justice is helping with an upcoming protest.

Defending these demolitions is Todd Strange, Mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, and a Republican. The Conservative Christians of Alabama said prior to the last election that "conservatives see a vote for him as their only chance to save Montgomery from liberal Democrats." 

This would seem to be an example where libertarians, already on the scene doing excellent work, might ally themselves with a carefully chosen liberal challenger for mayor, given that the local conservative establishment is insufficiently enamored of property rights and limited government. If Strange doesn't face or beats back a primary challenge prior to the next election -- some local conservatives are upset too -- I don't see how any libertarian voter could fail to root for his ouster in the general election.