"property rights initiative"

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Will Atlas, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. Some of you guys have probably heard about this. Its an initiative which the Farm Bureau is trying to get on the ballot in washington state. Essentially what it says is that the state of Washington would have to compensate a landowner everytime they enforce a zoning regulation or an environmental regulation. So the state gets the choice, either enforce and pay up or don't enforce the zoning laws or environmental regulations. Now I dont care what your political affiliation is this is bad news. and this is SO Fishing Related. Already we are seeing alot of irresponsible land use encroach on the places we as anglers and outdoorsmen love. This bill amounts to a land grab by a select few developers who seek gain while hurting the Public Interest. If this passes you can kiss the puget sound area rural areas goodbye. Sadly its not even really good for farmers as it will drive up property taxes and force already economically strained people to give their land up. In Oregon a similar initiative passed and in the inital period, thousands of claims were filed, casinos and subdivisions were built on farmlands, and it was an all around mess. The initiative was then ruled unconstitutional by a lower court putting the land grab on hold, but this past week a superior judge ruled it constitutional. I am just hoping to get people interested in this/informed, because words like "property rights" are a central part of our identity as Americans and people could vote for an initiative that actually hurts them and most others based solely on their convictions about property rights. We have to protect what's left while we still have it fellas. Thanks for listening. I am going to be volunteering for some group in opposition to the Initiative once I figure out where my time is best spent. Hope everyone is out catching steelhead, and feel free to PM me if you want to maybe work on this as a group.

    PS-Chris I know this isnt a political website, I respect that, but this effects our interests as a board directly.

  2. all it took was for the oregon supreme court to rule that measure 37 was constitutional! now everyone wants to throw out land use planning. don't let anyone kid you, this is ALL about developers licking their chops. oregon had a little old lady as part of the add campaign. the truth that is now coming out is that 86% of the claims which have been filed are for housing developments on former farm lands. this has almost NOTHING to do with an individual wanting to build another home for grandma, it is all about profitering. just say NO.
  3. anyone have a link to the actual intitiative?
  4. CHADK has the right idea, if you read it you might change your mind, especially since it is just about verbatim out of our Washington State constitution and closely follows the US constitution. Lets not knee jerk until we look at it and can make up our minds. The main thing it does is say you can't make a law and only apply it to a few property owners unless you pay them for the loss of use of their property. Read it and vote your mind.
  5. Grey - I haven't read it, but I can almost guarantee that it will go a lot further than the U.S. or state constitution, neither of which say anything about compensating landowners for the economic effects of land use regulations. To the extent that the federal or state constitutions treat regulatory impacts as 'takings' requiring just compensation, that is an idea that 'activist judges' dreamed up (and it is a high bar - not any diminution in value that is supposedly caused by land use regulations or decisions arises to the level of a takings). You simply won't find anything in the constitution that says that landowners have the right to be compensated for the economic impact of government regulations on their property. I don't have to read this, assuming it is anything like Prop 37 in Oregon, to know it goes way further than even the most activist, pro property rights judge interprets the constitutional takings clause. If this were merely codifying what the constitution requires, we wouldn't need anything like this to begin with.

    But Washingtonians have a happy history of approving all sorts of stupid stuff, so it wouldn't surprise me if this thing has legs. We want a clean environment, smooth, high capacity roads, good schools, etc. etc. but loathe to pay for them - whether financially or otherwise.
  6. o mykiss,

    At the risk of being completely and totally misunderstood, I must point out the obvious: If a land use regulation is passed that says I can only build one house on 10 acres of land (just like WA State's Growth Management Act has done) and I had a piece of land that was 9.9 acres in size that I bought with the intention of building a house on. And since it is a 9.9 acre piece of land, it will never be allowed to have a house built on it because the law (land use regulation) says it must be 10 acres to put a house on it, the government has taken my property from me and it has not given me "just compensation", as the US Constitution says it is to do when it takes my property.

    Should people be allowed to build on floodplains, I don't think so. However, look at how effectively this dumb practice could be curtailed by simply having the government subsidized flood insurance program done away with; thus, making the dumb fool who built or bought on the floodplain completely financially responsible for any flood damage or loss.
  7. The biggest problem with all these types of laws and ordinances as i see it is that they are all subject to change in the future. Most of these laws are passed based upon the current public whim. And by the influence of lobbiests and other interests.

    Too many times laws have been passed under the guise of one view and several years later the law was rescinded and low and behold some fat cats benefitted from the strictures imposed by the then out dated and overturned law.

    Example 1:

    Seattle, while Mayor Wes Ulman was in office banned building on slide sensitive areas. Pushed and promoted by Ulman in his last year of office and passed. Ulman starts buying up vast amounts of slide area lands and low and behold 4 years after he leaves office the US Supreme Court rules that the law is unconstitutional. Reslult, Wes Ulman now owns many pieces of property developed with wonderful views with a huge net gain financially.

    Example 2:

    The Lotto was sold to the voters as a means to fund schools. Voters approved. Legislature took the money and put it into the general fund. Did you vote on a school maintenance or capital improvement levy this year? I have voted on 2. HMMMMM

    Example 3:

    Sport Stadiums. The voter voted down the Mariners play pen and government said we didn't know what was best and financed the sucker and now Simms wants tax payers to make improvements? The Seagirls stadium was touted as being mostly payed for by Paul Allan but after the dust settled the gov. is picking up the tab.

    Just a few of very many examples. The question is, do you really want to trust the government and the laws for a long term solution when these laws can be rescinded and or ignored at the governments whim?


  8. that was exactly the arguement used in oregon with the little old lady on the TV ads. but as i have already pointed out,86% of the land use requests for compensation have come from developers! that is exactly what this is all about, not the exception to the rule but big MONEY interests raping the public domain.
  9. What's the big freakin' rush?! :confused: All arguments aside, why don't you all just be smart and watch what actually happens to us poor suckers to the south?

    Big money can manipulate public votes when they see they have a lot to gain. Watch and learn.

  10. I have to pipe in about this concept of taking and the constitution. When the government literally takes a property owners land (ie, build a light rail station where you now have your used car lot) the property owner is compensated according to fair market value and the owner loses the title and all rights to their land. When zoning laws dictate that you cannot build a 100 unit housing development on your 50 acre property you still retain the title to the land. The government hasn't taken your land. Your elected officials have decided that it is in the best interest of all that we draw a line in the sand and say this activity is not appropriate for the location. You can still subdivide the land into 10 5 acre plots (at least in rural Thurston Co.) and sell for a hefty profit. If you paid too much for the land because you didn't see the political writting on the wall, you were just plain stupid or greedy you could loose your ass. Contrary to popular belief of late, real estate isn't a sure thing, but a finacial investment and sometimes investments go bad.

    This concept of usurping governmental powers to favor financial gail is a long slippery slope with many political implications. What happens next,,, "I bought this land so that I could dispose of all of my used motor oil and battery acid that I have been charging auto shops to dispose of. Now that the government tells me that this land is the headwaters of your trout stream, so I need to be compensated for the money it will cost me to get rid of this stuff, the roads I built to the land and loss in value. But I will keep the title to the land for future sale!" or "Our company produced this wonderful drug that takes away all proplems and pain, but the FDA won't let it on the market because they say it is unsafe. Now the government owes the shareholders (no doubt a bunch of cute old retiries) all of the money that we could have made selling this wonderdrug to the masses."

    This is why I hate the initiatives process, because they always boil complex topics into sound bite ad campaigns.

    We all need to be very careful because there are a lot of developers with alot of riverfront that are just waiting to get their grubby paws on the Shorelines of the State, and I bet there are a few timber owners who wouldn't mind to be compensated for leaving riparian management zones on Fish-bearing Streams. The words in red are regulatory phrases that have real world regulatory implications, think about it.

    Large economic interest will back this process and if you want to know what kind of power and money real estate can bring into the process just ask the people of Jefferson Co who tried to get a rural real estate tax to curb urban sprawl on the last ballot.

  11. Nice Post.
  12. The Supreme Court of the US has consistantly ruled that local governments have a right to determine local land use and zoning. The courts have determined, IIRC, that governments have no responsibility to ensure that a property owner be allowed to sell his/her property for the maximum possible benefit. If you buy 5 acres of land and it is zoned for 1 house, then you have no recourse (nor should you) to argue that the government is "taking" the value of your land by not allowing you to sub-devide it into 25 building lots.

    However, if you purchased this 5 acre parcel that is zoned for a single house and the government came in after the fact and changed the zoning to allow no houses on this parcel, then you would have an arguement that the government "took" the land, as it has negated the value that this land was purchased for.

    The first case should also apply to a farmer that purchased a 100 acre farm and worked it for 20 years before deciding to retire and sell it off for development, only to find the zoning has been changed. He/she purchased the property as a farm and it can still be sold as a farm, therefore the value has not been totally negated; he/she can still sell the land for the purpose it was purchased for whether or not they can make a profit.

    I'm sure before this is over, the SCOTUS will hear the Oregon case and will determine the final outcome.
  13. I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with cactus and Ned and/or Jane (which one is it?) on this one.

    Even if specific uses are prohibited by statute, as long as one still holds title to the land, it hasn't been 'taken' from the owner and thus is (and should be) exempt from compensation under the right of eminent domain.

    What's really at play here seems to be the popularly-held notion of property rights extremists who fervently believe that they should be allowed to do *anything* they desire with *their* land simply because they (or their bank) own it. This is the same mentality that also decide from time to time that they're gonna stop paying property taxes.

    The bigger picture is, that if left unchecked, there's simply no end to the kind of crap that some people will try to get away with on *their* land, with complete and utter disregard for the needs or rights of the community as a whole.

    Like the Tukwila guy recently busted for dumping used battery acid into holes he dug on *his* property. It was *his* land, by God, and who has any right to tell him what he could do on his own little patch of paradise? So what if it leached into the groundwater? That's off his land, out of his control, and therefore someone else's problem, right?

    To paraphrase an ancient quote, "(laws) are the price we pay for civilization."

  14. I don't go along with the idea that ANY OR ALL uses can be prohibited by government but it not be determined a "taking" as long as the government does't take title to the land.

    In the example of the person buying 5 acres, zoned single family, to put one house on, if the government later comes in and decides that you can't build a single house, or anything, on this property because it would be detrimental to the public good; then that is a taking as the value of the property for which it was purchased has been negated. If it is in the "public good" to leave this property undeveloped, then the public should pay for that; just as we all pay for public schools, roads and government buildings since they serve the "public good".

    It is no different than if your local government decided that your neighborhood is too crowded and there is not enough water supply to serve all of the houses in your neighborhood, so if you decide to move or even go on vacation for a year, for the "public good", your house can not be re-occupied by you or a new owner; it has to stay vacant, however you still own it. Now the government hasn't "taken" your property in the physical sense, nor have they demanded it be torn down, but they have taken ALL value in your property as no one will buy an un-usable house.

    Allowing people to keep the value of land for it's intended purpose when purchased, is why when new zoning regulations are enacted, property owners are given a grace period to develop under the old regulations. This protects individuals property rights as outlined in the US Constitution.

    As for people who buy property zoned forest land or open space or something similar to later sue because the "maximum" value of their land is being denied them, that has been determined to have no constitutional protection.

    But I'm glad you're starting to see things my way!:thumb:
  15. Cactus,

    Your example of the person who bought the 5 acre parcell with the intent of building a house on it (when it was OK to do so) that now cannot because of the government passing a land use law (which is what the WA Growth Management Act is and has done to many property owners) that says he cannot now build a house on his 5 acres because "it is in the public good to only have one house on 10 acres in the area his property is located, is exacty what I was getting at.

    The battery acid, motor oil, or whatever other harmful substance being poured on a person's land, in a stream on his land, etc. are not the issue. Pouring harmful substances like these should be banned simply because it protects the people, wildlife, and fish from harmful substances. However, when government starts telling folks they can't build a house on their land (and in some instances such as the regulation passed in King County, WA last year that bans even outbuildings from being built on 5-20 acre parcels that already have a house on them), it is a taking of the person's property, and it is disingenuous to claim such a regulation was in the "public's good" to take it without compensating the land owners.
  16. I think a menatlity that people should be careful of is the idea that large economic interests or corporations are using their power to undermine the public domain. I'm sort of detecting it here and I hate to say it, but everyone has a price. And unfortunately some people can be bought for a very low price. If your neighbors on either side of you sell out to some company for development, and you hold out, who do you think will be screaming the loudest for immenint domain to kick in? Sure your kids played togeher for years and counseled eachother through lifes woahs, but for a buck or even to save a buck, some people will sell out their own grandmother. Look at Walmart, it wants to move into a town and everyone goes crazy that they don't want it there. But once its there, the low low prices can't be denied. I couldn't even count the number of anti-corporation, anti-commericalization, anti-globalization leftists shopping there, sometimes with a Starbucks coffee in their hands. So we shouldn't blame property rights issues on developers coming in and decieving people ( if we really want to get at the core of the problem), we need to see that its the selfish nature of people that want more and more and too lazy to determine what will happen in the long run; it deosn't matter if they wear a tie everyday or a stained tenament t-shirt. Some people will even out right admit that they could care less what happens in the long run, they'll be dead or will move away.
    Any way, that's my rant. What little I've learned in all these years of grad school.

    -An anthropologist.
  17. the example of the 5 acres which are now unbuildable is exactly the notion presented to oregonians with the little old grandma in the TV ads for measure 37. as i have already pointed out, although grandma swung the voters to approve 37, 86% of measure 37 claims that have already been filed by land developers bent on building new housing tracts.

    so, the notion that the little old man with a 5 acre parcel is being screwed is just so much hype to move forward an anti land use planning notion and drum up support for implementation. the irony of this is the exact same folks who would buy into this are the exact same folks who will go balistic when that 20 acre farm tract next door becomes 100 condos.

    you want this in your neighborhood??? go for it!!
  18. i should also have added, a solution could be as simple as the property owner petitioning to allow development of property according to the guidelines in place when THIS owner purchased the property. that would allow the 5 acre example to go forward without drama. it would also stop the person who claims his 20 acres is now worth 5M but can't get it.
  19. lots of good things said. I would say however that if this passes it will bankrupts our government ability to enforce zoing. Americans are reactionary voters and often hypocritical so I just wanted to get the word out.
  20. If I remember the Oregon land use law correctly, the property owner at the time the law was adopted HAD the right to develop under the conditions in place at purchase. It was when the property changed owners that the new law took effect. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

    In Washington, when zoning laws are enacted, the current property owner has a grace period (usually 6 months +/-) before the new zoning regulations take effect that they can file an intent to develop under the old rules. Once this grace period passes, the original owner must obide by the new regulations. There are provisions for "grandfathers rights" but that would just complicate this discussion.

    I have no sympathy for anyone who purchases a property zoned for farm use with the intent to convert it to housing. The original owner can sell their farm AS A farm, no actual value has been lost, only potential value.

    However, someone who has property that becomes totally unusable due to new regulations intended for the public good has lost ACTUAL value. This should be compensated by the public just as any other public benefit is.

    I don't always like paying for schools, parks, libraries, etc. but I do as it is a public benefit.

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