Let’s say you and several neighbors live near an eyesore. If you don’t like the maintenance of that property, you should do it yourself. This means that the several of you could pitch together to purchase the blighted property, and transform it into something useful like a park or open space for your common enjoyment. But he fears, as we’ve seen, that zoning laws prevent people from improving their lots (no pun intended) individually, or collectively. If the current owner held allodial title, or a claim to allodial title, instead of the quasi-feudal title we refer to as “fee simple”, this would not be a problem. But because of land patents, through which the government declares its violent intentions against all contest, you can’t acquire allodial title.
A friend of mine lives next door to what could properly be described as “blighted” property. It is a 60+ year old dwelling in serious disrepair: there are no appliances, the garage is falling over and is a likely haven for rats, the floors and walls show signs of damage throughout, it was once home to no less than 7 dogs and several cats, and bears the telltale smell of urine that is always present where people neglect to properly train, care for, or clean up after their pets. The previous tenant has been foreclosed on, and the house sits vacant, with a list price of perhaps half of what my friend paid for his adjacent house, about 7 years ago. Even at this price, it is probably overvalued.
My friend has considered trying to purchase this adjacent parcel and combine lots, rather than sell his own house and move elsewhere. Doing so would allow him to expand and remodel his own house, and provide a larger yard for his daughter, his dogs, and entertaining. Unfortunately, he’s afraid that our municipality may very well not let him combine lots, because in doing so the tax base decreases.
Contrast these scenarios with what governments routinely do: If you want to improve the neighborhood, it’s nearly impossible to do so. If the government wants to “improve the neighborhood” (or enrich its patrons), it simply shuts off the utilities and declares the properties blighted, and then “reclaims” them under the principle of eminent domain. If, as an individual, you sabotaged your neighbors plumbing and then tried to take his property, you’d be branded a criminal. When government does it, we call it “urban renewal”.