News & Politics

Homeowners Fined for 'Starry Night' Murals on Exterior Walls

The Statue of Liberty (Getty Images)

Some people walk to the beat of a different drum. They don’t want the little yellow house with the white picket fence. They want something a little different.

Or, maybe, a lot different. Florida homeowners Nancy Nemhauser and Ludomir Jastrzebski decided to paint a mural of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night on their home.

It’s their home, though, right? Their property? They can do what they want.

Except they can’t, apparently. The two now owe over $8,000 in fines because of the mural.

While I’m sure the neighbors are less than thrilled with the mural, it shouldn’t matter. This is Nemhauser and Jastrzebski’s private property. They should be able to do what they want with it as long as no one is injured in the process.

But that’s not how it works in our country. We have a million petty tyrants establishing local restrictions on what people can do with their property.

Who cares if they painted a mural on their house? “Oh, but that could reduce property values!”

Tough. I’m sorry, but why do we need laws to protect a neighborhood’s property values? I don’t mean to be insensitive, but the government should not tilt the playing field by protecting some people’s investments and not others’ as a general rule. Investing is risky. The government can protect against real crimes like fraud, but should not protect you from bad business decisions, or bad luck.

Why are home values considered such a sacrosanct investment as to require interference with property rights?

Frankly, if we’re going to pretend people actually own their homes, we should allow them to paint their homes however they wish. If you don’t want to live next to a house with Starry Night painted on it, move. There are plenty of quirky people who would like to live in such a neighborhood.

As it stands, what’s happening to Nemhauser and Jastrzebski is more evidence that private property doesn’t really exist in a nation that supposedly supports the concept. If people truly embraced private property, no one would be fining a couple of homeowners for what they’ve painted on their home.