Property Rights, Local Version

Winona, MN, has decided it has the right to determine what a man can do with his private property and do so without such trivial acts as seizing it under eminent domain and paying “just compensation” for it.  The 5th Amendment doesn’t apply to this town’s City Council, it seems.

Winona’s “government” has decided that only 30% of the homeowners on any city block will be allowed to rent their homes, and the city will decide which 30% will receive this boon.

Aside from the legal question of this property taking, there are practical effects.  Winona is a university town, and many of its city blocks are within student-commute of the university.  Renting a house by groups of students, or renting a room or two in a house by a student (letting a room counts the whole house against the 30% limit), was a way for a student to find cheap housing.  No more.

Renting a house, or a room or two, was a way for a homeowner to pick up some additional income, an especially valuable thing in this economy of ours.  No more.

Renting a house when it was for sale, but not selling, was a way for a homeowner to pick up some extra income and perhaps relocate to a new job and be able to afford housing in the new location.  No more.

The Winona City Council members have decided they will make these decisions—mere homeowners are unequal to the task—and they will limit to whom they grant their blessing.

It’s a twofer: arrogant and unconstitutional.

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