1 Jul 2011

'dedicated to the common use of the pobladores'

I am enjoying reading Vincent Ostrom's Phd thesis, may not be your idea of fun, but Vince who was later to marry Elinor Ostrom, was already fascinated by commons in 1950.

Here he looks at how the Spanish monarchy created common property, while I am a stern critic of the European invasion of North America and the destruction of indigenous and indigenous property rights, its still a fascinating example of commons.

Indeed the term 'poblader' seems to translate as 'settler.'

Ostrom and Ostrom have been at the forefront of looking at how commons can potentially be used to manage resources so that they are ecologically sustainable and provide a basis for shared prosperity.

If you are interested in this kind of stuff, enjoy! The whole of
Government and Water: A Study of the Influence of Water upon Governmental
Institutions and Practices in the Development of Los Angeles
is online.

Hey and watch the Polanski film China Town for how this played out later in terms of water/politics/violence!

Any way on to the property rights!

Agricultural lands were divided into parcels (guertes), and each poblader was allocated two
parcels of irrigable and two parcels of non-irrigable land to farm.87
Many types of property were dedicated to the common use of the pobladores. Among
them were woodlands (montes), tracts of lands for enclosing draft animals (dehesas), pastures
(pastos), fields (prados), salt springs (Salinas), common land surrounding the town left open for
threshing grain, recreation or other common uses (ejidos), springs of water appropriated for town
supply (Fuentes), places for watering cattle (abreveduras), waters (aguas), and other common
properties not devoted to special use (valdios). All inhabitants, “… under regulations designed to
secure the utility of the lands and secure equality could use all of these lands.”88
Some lands were dedicated to the use of the church and other lands, known as proprios,
were held for development by pueblo authorities as a source of revenue. Rentals from
commercial enterprises such as stores and shops or cultivation by the pobladores under direction
of the pueblo authorities provided by the revenue. Proprios could be sold or converted into
solares or suertes.89

John W. Dwinelle, The Colonial History of the City of San Francisco (reprint; San Diego: Frye & Smith, 1924),
Addenda No. IV, p. 5.
Vernon Irrigation Company v. City of Los Angeles, 106 Cal. 237, 247.
Loc. cit.
Even the individual holdings of the pobladores (solares y suertes de tierras) were subject
to substantial reservations. The land and improvements were granted in perpetuity to the new
poblador and his heirs “… provided the whole of them comply with the obligation to be
expressed in these instructions.”90 Neither the poblador nor his heirs could “…impose on the
house or parcel of land granted them, either tax, entail, reversion, mortgage or any other burden
even if it be for pious purposes.”91 If a poblador should violate the regulations “… his grant shall
ipso facto be given to another colonist who may be useful and obedient.92
In effect title was granted to the use of the land rather than to the body of the land. The
pueblo land remained a part of the royal domain.

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