What Are Residents Entitled To?

I feel as though the question in the title of this post is a really messy one. What are we entitled to as residents of a neighborhood?

There are some parts of an answer that may be a little easier to sort through. For those who rent homes, they sign a lease that often includes provisions. They are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property. They have tenant rights around livable conditions, safety, utilities, etc.

Renters are also entitled to protections under the law in the neighborhood. Neighbors shouldn't be able to trespass on the property you are renting. It doesn't always happen, but ideally you should feel safe in your neighborhood, even outside of your property.

The question gets a little more contentious when you look at homeowners (disclosure - I am one of these homeowners). Homeowners want and deserve some of these same rights. However, they often seem to think they are entitled to even more.

Sure, if there is a Homeowner's Association (HOA), then there are additional rules about yards and colors of front doors. I personally would try to avoid HOAs, but people make the choice to buy into them and in theory, they understand the rules and governance structures that come along with them.

But beyond that, conversations I have had with homeowners lead me to believe that they FEEL entitled to much more.

I have seen grassroots efforts in a lot of neighborhoods in Durham (and elsewhere) among homeowners that try to control the neighborhood. Because they bought a 1/2 acre lot within a neighborhood, they get to dictate exactly what is or is not built on another lot, 1 mile away.

I don't want to call out any particular neighborhoods by name, but there is one neighborhood, close to downtown and surrounded by neighborhoods that are in the urban tier that fought tooth and nail to try to carve out their neighborhood to have 1/2 acre lot size minimums.

Forcing what should be an urban-tier neighborhood to have half-acre lots can really limit housing supply, which hurts affordability. Should individuals who bought a single lot, even collectively, be entitled to make it harder for young people, future residents, and lower income residents to find housing in the neighborhood?

Are homeowners entitled to preventing tear-downs that replace affordable units with more expensive ones?

Are homeowners entitled preserving the "character" of a neighborhood (which usually means the character that happened to exist when they happened to purchase their individual lot)?

Are homeowners entitled to prevent townhomes or apartment complexes, or ADUs, or other forms of housing?

Are homeowners entitled to dictate whether or not affordable housing is built in their neighborhood?

Are homeowners entitled to bike lanes, more walkable areas, and many of the attributes that I personally advocate for?

There are policies that I support and policies that I don't. At the end of the day, we work through our local government to try to make Durham a better place. However, I don't think as a homeowner, I should be entitled to dictate how my neighborhood looks or operates and who can live there with me.

I bought my property. I didn't buy my neighborhood.

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