The JT has an article today about a would be candy business and a controversy over their burglar bars.
To summarize the articles contents, there is a proposal for candy store in the inner city that has come before the city council. The building that would house the candy store has burglar bars. The city council has voted to approve a conditional use permit allowing the burglar bars while Mayor Dickert has promised to veto approval, noting that "bars are a horrible example of what the city should be."
I am of the opinion that the government should not concern themselves with how business or property owners protect their property from criminals. Will the city pay for the losses when the candy store is burglarized? Of course not.
The larger problem is, as I have stated numerous times in the past, the conditional use permitting requirement. In bygone days, property uses were constrained only by zoning decisions. When I opened my business in Racine several years ago, there was no conditional use permit required. I was setting up a business in an area zoned for business and I was not required to grovel to local politicians. This is how it should be.
However, we now have a conditional use permit requirement. This allows all business property decisions to be subject to political considerations. Risks abound when opening a business as it is, but the conditional use permit greatly magnifies said risks. Typically, there is considerable time, energy, and money expended prior to any business venture. In Racine now, even legal businesses in properly zoned areas are prevented by government from opening. Why bother considering Racine as a place to invest?
Of course property owners and politicians have divergent interests. Politicians, in this case are interested in combatting a perception of crime. The business owner is interested in combatting actual crimes. To politicians, burglar bars harm their fight against the perception of crime. To a property owner, burglar bars help their fight against actual crime. As you can clearly see, the needs of the politicians are quite different from the needs of this property owner. And now, thanks to the conditional use permit, property owners can now be used to fulfill the needs of politicians. That is not why people buy property and it will of course undermine a property's value.
Now on to this crime perception problem. If there were no crime in Racine I could fathom an argument outlawing burglar bars, video surveillance, heck, even locks. But crime exists and government has no business preventing people from efforts to deter crime. The city should join in this effort to combat actual crimes and, to the extent they are successful, the image problem will go away.
Perhaps the real problem with burglar bars for politicians is that they are a visual reminder of the politicians failure to control crime. But then, when your policies create incentives for criminals, what should you expect?