Conservation districts are bad

To the editor:

While proponents of Neighborhood Conservation Districts are well-intentioned, I think these ordinances will have many bad consequences, and — more important — that they are unjust.

First, by taking away part of our ownership rights — the right to lease one’s house — they unnecessarily expand the power of (city) government and invite intrusiveness.

Second, excluding the possibility of using a property for rental could force families who must move but are unable to sell into being stuck with two mortgages. The possibility of renting one’s property provides a needed cushion for some individuals and families. NCDs will remove that cushion, and that could cause financial ruin for some families.

Third, some homeowners who have had to move have been unable to find buyers for their houses, though they could find renters. If the city prohibits the renting of such houses, they’re likely to become vacant and perhaps eventually abandoned. Also, some potential buyers will be deterred out of a fear of being stuck with two mortgages. So the chief long-term effect of the NCDs for some neighborhoods will likely be an increase in the number of vacant or abandoned houses.

Fourth, to the extent these restrictions against new rentals are imposed widely across the city, the number of rentals available will be limited, and thus their price will rise. The result-as shown across the country-is that housing becomes less accessible to low income people.

City ordinances should be aimed at improving the conditions of all people in the city-the common good-not merely the benefit of a sub-group. They should help people at all levels of income-both those who can afford a down payment on a house, and those who cannot.

Patrick Lee