Opinions & Editorial Who’s Protecting Your Rights ? Don’t Complain, Just Comply!
Do you believe that your elected officials and government at all levels have your property rights as their main goal? If you do you are not paying attention to what is happening throughout this country. Property rights are being compromised everywhere. Corporate rights trump individual rights almost all the time. If you are not engaged in making your views and rights heard by your elected officials, you will not be represented and your rights could well be lost.
Most of us believe property rights are sacrosanct; however this is far from reality. How often have you heard that the process of eminent domain has taken someone’s property for the so called greater good? Property rights, water rights, mineral rights are not as protected now as they were in the past. Mineral rights have been segregated from property rights a long ago by most of the original landowners. Another issue is ‘regulatory takings.’ These are restrictions by zoning or other imposed ordinances in urban areas.
Water rights are at risk as corporations see water as a means to greater wealth for them and their share holders. Some corporations believe it is their right to control as much water as they can and many governments worldwide seem to at least agree with them. So what does it mean to you to have your property rights protected? If your neighbor takes all or most of the groundwater adjacent to your property should that be deemed as okay, even thou it adversely affects your well. What if people in a community waste water in a time of drought, should that be tolerated as their right?
Is there a place where a line needs to be drawn so that someone who is exercising their perceived right is not infringing upon your rights? If so how do you reconcile this difference of opinions? I personally think an ordinance or some sort of statue needs to be in place to ensure that some sort remedy can be exercised even if it means going to court. It is incumbent upon us to make these changes if we are to protect what few rights we have left. I think an ordinance should protect all existing rights currently granted by the State’s permitting system. The only thing that would change is that a limit would be placed on the amount of water someone or a corporation could export from Catron County. You might consider this an infringement on someone’s right, but it is to protect the exploitation of our water resources.
That’s the answer I got from the Construction Industries Division Superintendent (The Big Boss), and all of his underlings, when I inquired on behalf of a customer as to why the electrical inspector decided to include their existing structure as part of his inspection when the inspection was scheduled for a totally different purpose. Don’t get me wrong, the inspector was well within the purview of his ‘authority’ according to the existing regulations.
Fear not, Citizen. The state of New Mexico and all of its 48 state certified construction and building inspectors are here to serve you—and to save you from yourself. You may not be aware of this, but the NM Construction Industries Licensing Act clearly states that: “A state certified inspector may, during reasonable hours, enter any building or go upon any premises in the discharge of the inspector’s official duties for the purpose of making an inspection…” The regulation goes on. For more edifying, eye opening, and infuriating reading, please reference: New Mexico CILA 60-13-42 Authority of Inspectors; Limitation. (I think you will find the word limitation to be a bit of an oxymoron.)
Imagine this scenario. You are expanding, prospering, and growing, and you want to build a new, legally permitted building on your property. On this property is a building you call home, which you and your family built some twenty years ago. You decide to install additional electrical power in order to accommodate your existing needs and those of the proposed building. Now, the electrical inspector shows up to inspect the new power installation and all looks good until he asks, “Who built that”? To which you reply, “Me.” “Did you have a permit?” the inspector asks. “No, we just built it and raised our children here, and now we need a place to store some of our accumulated belongings.”
Now, in the ‘discharge of his official duties’, Mr. Inspector may enter your home to conduct a full-blown inspection of your premises. Some people would call this intrusive; most of us would call it trespassing. But relax, citizen…it only gets worse. The electrical inspector can call the plumbing inspector, who can call the gas inspector, who can call the general building inspector. They all get to weigh in on specifically what it’s going to take to make you safe—and compliant. Should you refuse to comply, or if you cannot afford the compulsory upgrades to your home, they can help you make a better choice. Because, for your own good, citizen: CILA 60-13-42 B: further states “The inspector may disconnect or order the discontinuance of service to any installation…”. They can and will do this in the name of public safety.
Now, don’t you feel safer already? I mean, you might actually be living in an unsafe building, a building you call home, which may not be permitted or up to current building code standards. Maybe you and a friend or an in-law added a bedroom on to your house, or maybe you added a covered deck or installed a couple of ceiling fans. If you did any of those things and did not obtain a building permit from the state of New Mexico, you are in violation, citizen.
In order to demonstrate just how non-compliant you may be, citizen, I submit to you: New Mexico Administrative Code—NMAC 22.214.171.124 A. Permits Required. “… no building or structure shall be erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, converted or demolished…unless the applicable permit has first been obtained…” And that should pretty much cover it; now you know what you may not do with out permission and approval from the state.
My point in telling you this is that this type of government overreach is happening NOW… TODAY…right here in our community and around the state of New Mexico. As I was told in a letter from the superintendent of the NM Regulation and Licensing Department, the inspector took steps to, “…bring to light unsafe conditions that could threaten the lives and property of the good citizens of the State of New Mexico…”
Initially, I asked the CID office why existing structures were being inspected in conjunction with newly permitted work. The response I got was, “I would think that existing structures would have been grandfathered in.” Nope, not the case! The fact that your home hasn’t blown down or burned down in the last 40 or 50 years has no bearing on the issue at hand. And that issue is that the state certified inspector has the authority to act, based on the inspector’s judgment. Such authority can be wielded in order make you and your home compliant—and for