By Ray Ahmed

Private property rights are America’s least partisan and most hallowed tradition, a defining characteristic of our free society. But those rights are increasingly coming under attack by Texas cities employing forced annexation policies.  

San Antonio is the most recent high-profile example of a city government pushing its taxes, debt, and big government structure on an unwilling population.

In addition to its plans to annex 66 sq. miles and 200,000 Texans living in unincorporated areas, the City of San Antonio just announced its intentions to annex an additional 87 sq. miles and 52,000 Texans. When asked about this new annexation, some councilmembers, citing conservative reform efforts that were nearly realized last session (see SB 1639 and HB 2221), expressed the “need to do anything we can to get quite aggressive in the annexation process.

One of the prime motivations for this kind of policy is to grow a city’s pool of tax money. But growing government spending is not a reasonable justification for trampling on someone’s private property rights—and reform is needed now.

In particular, the policy should be reformed so that cities must produce a written contract for services shown in at least two public hearings and cities ought to be required to obtain approval by a majority of residents. Areas of fewer than 200 residents could be done via petition; larger areas would require a referendum.

Adopting these policies will help reassure countless communities across the state of Texas that cities, like San Antonio, will no longer be able to impose their taxes, debts and big-government structures on an unwilling populace. In the 2017 legislative session, this is going to be a pressing issue for those interested in upholding private property and individual freedom.