Wyoming Liberty Group
Several candidates who will appear on primary election ballots in Wyoming have endorsed replacing elected officials with appointed bureaucrats. Some of these candidates are even running for election to offices that they do not believe should be held by citizens who have been elected through the democratic process. Other candidates have said that they believe other offices that conflict with the office they are seeking should be appointed, not elected. Examples of these offices that some candidates want to remove from the democratic process range from the statewide Superintendent of Public Instruction to local County Coroners. In Cheyenne, the debate over whether there are too many people living in Cheyenne to entrust the government to the hands of an elected politician rather than appointing a professionally trained bureaucrat to rule the city.
This article was first published in the Laramie Boomerang on August 10, 2014.
The city of Laramie is quick to remind residents where they cannot place political signs. However, the city should announce that residents may place political signs supporting any candidate.
As written, the city’s political sign regulations functionally treat signs differently depending on which candidate the political sign supports. Such regulations more closely resemble rules dictators use than the American constitutional system of democracy.
Wyoming’s wide-open spaces and horizons that appear to stretch to infinity are some of the most remarkable amenities residents can enjoy. For those who are more familiar with life in towns or even small acreages, these magnificent expanses of land without buildings can sometimes seem empty. Agriculturalists, however, can recognize how actively our countryside is working to produce the food and fiber our society depends on for food and clothing. The fields and pastures individual farmers and ranchers own and operate are not empty; they are the basic components of every agricultural operation. The potential income for a farmer or rancher is limited by the number of acres that farm or ranch has available to plant crops or graze animals on. Our founding fathers did not simply protect property because of some abstract theory of independence and individual liberty symbolized by land ownership; they did so because they understood that land is the essential foundation for economic productivity and sustenance that the rest of any economy is built upon.
- The Cheyenne UDC: Prohibiting signs since 2012
Residents of Cheyenne and Laramie should rest assured that the Unified Development Codes enacted by their respective city governments will protect them from development of any future icons like the Phoenix Block in downtown Cheyenne pictured below.
Cheyenne’s garbage collection controversy is yet another example of how a government’s one-size-fits-all solution fails to solve a problem and limits individual freedom.
The problem started when the Cheyenne City Administration notified all residents that the sanitation department would no longer collect trash from containers in alleys. Instead all residents, except those who lived in one select neighborhood, would be required to place trash containers in front of their house. The City Council rejected a resolution to make this change in service back in 2012 so the administration tried to adopt the change without City Council involvement. The administration argued that the change was an operational, not a political, decision but then reversed course.
The principles of individual liberty, property rights and trust in the free market tell us that real estate development projects do not need government imposed off-street parking requirements. Although neither the old Cheyenne zoning laws nor the current Cheyenne UDC require downtown businesses to provide off-street parking, some concerned citizens asked the Cheyenne City Council and the Laramie County Commission to add new downtown parking requirements to PlanCheyenne in the name of market freedom. A better approach that respects private property and the free market is for Wyoming’s towns and cities to eliminate off-street parking requirements in all areas. This will let the marketplace decide how much parking is needed.
Local elected officials are often asked to vote for or against a private landowner’s application to build something on private property. Respect for private property rights means that an official should start with the presumption that she or he will vote to approve the application, despite pleas to deny the application from nearby landowners or residents. This default position is based on the fact that although neighbors have some right to influence land use on nearby property, those rights are specific and limited. Two permit applications—one recently submitted to the Laramie County Commission and the other to the Natrona County Planning and Zoning Commission—illustrate how elected officials must differentiate between an individual’s property rights and the protection of the property rights of neighbors. The aesthetic concerns expressed by homeowners in Laramie County are in sharp contrast to the concerns by residents living near a proposed industrial tank farm in Natrona County.