The war on pawn (and used cars)

OK, we get

Endangerd in Warren, Michigan (photo from Macomb Daily)

Endangered in Warren, Michigan (photo from Macomb Daily)

it. Pawnshops are not among the best-loved of businesses — except by our customers, who value us.

But just because you disapprove of or dislike somebody’s business, that doesn’t mean you can use local government to make ridiculous impositions. This news has not penetrated to some of the more backward parts of the country, like Macomb County, Michigan.

In Warren in Macomb, county officials are refusing to accept applications for pawnshops and have imposed unconstitutional restrictions, like a 750-foot exclusion zone around churches. And some of them want to extend that to 1,000 feet.

This kind of zoning restriction runs into a well-known (in the civilized world, anyway) constitutional principle, the “rational nexus” requirement.

Governments need a real reason for imposing rules on otherwise legal businesses. It’s OK to ban a business running a trip hammer or a car crusher from operating near a school or a church, both of which need a degree of peace and quiet.

But a pawnshop isn’t going to interfere with a church. (Vice versa might not be the case.) If the church can operate within a thousand feet of, say, a beauty parlor, it will have to put up with pawnshops, too.

(Also, used car lots. Macomb wants to impose similar restrictions on them.)

Beauty parlors, pawnshops and used car lots have similar impacts on their surroundings.

If any pawnbrokers or car dealers in Macomb care to sue, they’ll win. The car lot regulation is particularly easy to see. There cannot be any real difference in impact between a used car dealer and a new car dealer, but Macomb is not trying to clamp down on new car dealers.

There’s a good chance none will sue. It costs money to fight city hall even when you’re sure you’ll win. That’s especially true in a hick county like Macomb, which elects its municipal judges.

There’s a good chance an elected local judge would rule against the pawnshop. Eventually, in a higher court, the shop would win. But it’s a fight not everyone would choose to pick.

However, it costs us nothing to jeer at the clodhoppers in Macomb.

#pawn #maui pawn #maui retail #ProudofPawn