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Posted on October 17, 2009 at 9:58 AM

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 The Libertarian Tool paradigm of Charter Cities is spreading, and now being rediscovered as "new" by economists such as Paul Romer at the TED meeting of world innovators.


Variously called mini-archisms, designed communities, autonomous communities, charter areas, ZEBRAS (Zero-Based Regalation Areas), zones of waiver or exception or enterprise development zones, the idea is for a mechanism for small communities to be exempt from pernicious ordinances and in effect run as mini-societies in many cases. Libertarians such as McClaughry, Van Notten, and Bordenave (who met with Chinese leaders in the early 70's promoting Libertarian concepts)  in China have championed the concept, resulting in the gated community movement, deregulated zones in the Netherlands and other countries, and special status in China for Hong Kong and other areas. In California, statutes specifically enable "Charter Cities" with ordinances that may differ and have the status of state law. See also the article below on cities adopting voluntary city policies in Georgia.




Dr. Romer in his talk gives an informative and entertaining review of the need and use of the concept in recent years, and the state of the art of adoption. Libertarians have been discussing how to use direct democracy to enable the concept in their states or countries, and often catalyzed successful moves in that direction.


In 2001 Charles Champion, a US Libertarian in public office who formed one of the first Libertarian Board majorities in a large area, noted that many areas have charter review boards of substantial powers which Libertarians could bring to the fore. In Florida several Home Rule initiatives are under way.



>Article XI, section 3(a) of the California Constitution ( http://www.cacities.org/chartercities  ;) recognizes the adoption of a city charter and provides such a charter has the force and effect of state law. Article XI, section 5(a), the home rule provision, affirmatively grants to charter cities supremacy over municipal affairs.  See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_city


>Lang, Diane (December, 1991) (PDF). Dillon's Rule...and the Birth of Home Rule. New Mexico Municipal League. http://nmml.org/files/2008/01/dillon.pdf

Discussion of Dillon's rule, charter cities and home rule in New Mexico.


>In Spain, a long process of Regional and local devolution down to the neighborhoods is public policy and underway, particularly as a means of innovation and reducing tensions. See: http://countrystudies.us/spain/71.htm  "One of the most striking features of Spain's new governmental system is the devolution of power and responsibility to the regions. Regional differences had been the source of longstanding tensions..." (The article fails to realize that under Franco many functions had been devolved further than today e.g. hiring of local patrols was done by neighborhood associations, resulting in 90% of the police force being compensated by tips and a low crime rate. )


>In Switzerland, local area or "Commune" autonomy includes many areas that in other countries are handled by the central government, such as parts of immigration status. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_Switzerland


>Work of Van Notten: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=michael+van+notten+d-zones&aq=f&oq=&aqi=


>In the US, states such as Nevada use local rule to handle legalization of gaming and gambling, a method Libertarians have helped make now widespread; sex workers; and other cultural issues. The Gay marriage bru-ha-ha in the US started over attempts to override local autonomy on the issue in California, where cities began to recognize the concept,  led by "small government" right wing politicians and groups. 


>In Florida many functions are being handled by neighborhood associations and voluntary communities, leading to the characterization that the state has substantially privatized government. Accoding to Dr. R. Holcombe, former advisor to the Governor , Libertarians helped play a substantial role in awareness of the tool but it now has a momentum "of its own." See: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=privatized+neighborhood+government+in+Florida&aq=f&oq=&aqi=


>REPORT: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/faculty/nelson/Kennedy%20School.pdf







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