A sold out crowd attended an event with Christina Sandefur, Executive Vice President of the Goldwater Institute, and Tim Sandefur, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute. The event, titled “Private Property Rights” was hosted at the offices of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.
The Sandefurs have helped the Goldwater Institute defend property rights for many cases across the nation, as detailed in their book “Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in the 21st Century“. Their latest victory protected vacation rental owners in Sedona, Arizona against government over-regulation in the home sharing market.
Tim Sandefur said that property rights are a bit like love. In the same way that a wedding ring connects two people, property rights connect us to the world, he said. “That’s why it hurts us personally to have property taken from us, even if you’re paid the cash equivalent,” said Tim.
Christina Sandefur said that the understanding of property rights is shifting in America, “Instead of having a presumption of freedom . . . now, the understanding has morphed into one where I am not allowed to act until I get permission from the government to do so.”
Christina said that this shift has chipped away at property rights in America. “You can’t build on your property, you can’t rent your property, you can’t paint your house unless you get permission from somebody,” said Christina, “And that is a fundamental misunderstanding, it is a perversion of what our founding fathers saw as the most important right of all.”
The Sandefurs also talked about home sharing, and the push for government intervention in the market. Regulators have tried to increase crackdowns in the home sharing market across the state and across the nation. New York state recently signed a ban on home sharing. Chicago passed an ordinance that home sharing owners must allow government inspectors to come into their home at any time, or for any reason. “This is an egregious violation of privacy rights,” said Christina.
Christina said, “I’ve been told that interrogators go up to the beaches in Waikiki and ask visitors where they’re staying. They go up to people’s houses, knock on the door. They go through your gates and your fences.”
Tim Sandefur added that Hawaii laws which don’t allow home sharing are dangerous, even if they aren’t actively enforced. He said that these types of laws are, “a great danger because it’s always hovering over somebody’s head to be used against them whenever it becomes politically popular to do so.”
Arizona recently passed a law which protects home sharing, and the Goldwater Institute has offered model legislation to help states across the nation do the same. Arizona also passed a second law which forced government to deal with issues like noise complaints and parking complaints on an individual basis. Christina said, “If you’re concerned about noise, traffic, parking . . . then enforce that. Enforce it strictly, enforce it against the owner. But do not ban an entire industry; don’t stop people from renting out their homes.”
Christina said that government officials also need to consider the costs of regulation that they are imposing, and they helped to pass the Property Ownership Fairness Act. “It’s really simple,” said Christina, “When government takes away your property rights . . . they have to pay you.” After the law was passed in Arizona, over-regulation decreased.
Asked whether it would be possible to pass these kind of laws in Hawaii, Christina said that in Arizona, more Democrats supported the bill than Republicans. “It was not a partisan issue . . . it had bipartisan support. It’s really just a rational issue. If we could do it in Arizona, with Democrats on board, you could do it here” Christina said.