Property Rights and the 2018 General Plan

The government does not have the right to steal your property. Our economic and legal systems are built on the premise that your property, be it money or land, is your own and cannot be arbitrarily taken from you by government.

This has become an issue with the formulation of the 2018 General Plan. As in the voter approved 2005 General Plan, now in effect, the new planning map has indicated some places where dedicated trails could be connected if, and only if, property owners choose to grant public access. The Town of Cave Creek has always respected the property rights of the land owners. No more than the government can illegally rob your bank account, can the government steal you property rights.

Why show desired trail connections at all? Without such a “wish list” of connectors on a General Plan map, it becomes almost impossible to make the connections even if a developer or land owner wants to contribute a new trail. Odd as it may seem, even accepting such a gift to the town becomes very difficult without a planning map that shows proposed trails.

You may fear that the Town would take away control of part of your land by a legal process called eminent domain. Eminent domain is so expensive for the government, and gives so much reward to the property owner, that it’s out of the question as a method to extend trails. It’s both very costly to the government and an unwelcome affront to the property owner. Your Town government knows that. It’s a totally impractical method to extend trails. And so it should be.

The voter approved 2005 General Plan contains a planning map that identifies where a much greater number of trails could logically extend. It’s hard to distinguish between dedicated and proposed trails making it easy to misuse by hikers and others. The 2005 map is now contributing to unwanted trespass by people who think public access exists where it does not. As a a part of a publicly approved document, the government cannot deny access to that map. The private sector can change or hide things at will. We don’t allow our government to operate that way.

So the publicly approved map within the 2005 General Plan is a bad map. The only way to replace it is for the voters to approve a map that clearly shows where public access ends. That a strong reason to invalidate the 2005 map by voter approval of a new General Plan that has fewer proposed future trails and clearer indication of where the public has, and does not have, legal access.

The 2018 General Plan will clarify and strengthen your control of your own property.

Thomas McGuire
Cave Creek Town Council