There are now 16 countries where property rights are more secure than in the United States.

A recent Heritage Foundation study shows that countries like Denmark, Luxembourg, and Singapore value property rights more than the U.S. The now infamous Kelo decision-allowing property to be taken to enhance tax revenues-is a prime example of this. Although Texas and other states have taken action to push back against these types of property abuses, the Heritage Foundation study makes it clear that too many other forms of governmental takings remain.

As pointed out in our paper on regulatory takings, one of those involves municipalities limiting the use of private property through re-zoning and other land use controls. Land owners have very little recourse in these cases since courts deny that such actions are compensable takings. That’s because, as the Texas Supreme Court has said, “Property owners do not acquire a constitutionally protected vested right in property uses.”

At a recent hearing of the Texas House County Affairs Committee, several county commissioners expressed their desire to increase the number of land use controls available to them. The rationale is one that goes back to kindergarten – if the cities can do it, why can’t we?

Given America’s decline in property rights and economic freedom, the answer is not to give counties more regulatory authority over private economic and property rights, it’s to give the cities less.

– Ryan Brannan