Our community is full of independent people who want control over their lives and their land. That's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.
But then there are those who raise the issue of "property rights" every time a land use policy comes along that they don't like -- or when the question of community rights is raised to challenge a subdivision or big-box store or other project that doesn't fit the community, causes gridlock, creates air pollution, destroys habitat, or otherwise creates problems for other people.
There are many misconceptions about property rights. But the truth is, local governments -- that is, our duly elected representatives -- have broad powers to determine what is best for the community and through that process, to control local land use. Those powers include telling people how they can develop and use their property.
Although individuals may have their own definitions of property rights, the courts have in fact defined property rights and "takings" for us. For a good explanation of how it all works, see this handbook from LandWatch Monterey County.