Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Beware of “Property Rights” Scam

Would you sign a petition to stop Eminent Domain abuse? Of course you would. Anybody would. There probably isn’t one person in America — outside of the U.S. Supreme Court — who’s in favor of using Eminent Domain to seize one person’s property and sell it to a developer.

Unfortunately, some sleazy developers and “property rights” fanatics are taking full advantage of Americans’ fear and loathing of Eminent Domain abuse. They want to eliminate ALL environmental and land-use regulations. They know the public strongly favors land-use and zoning regulations, so these pusbags have to use some major sleight-of-hand tactics.

This November, six Western states will have initiatives on the ballot to delete all zoning and land-use regulations. It was quick and easy to get them on the ballot, since everybody wants to sign a petition to “Stop Eminent Domain Abuse.” These initiatives have names like “Protect Our Homes,” “The Homeowner’s Protection Effort” and “People’s Initiative to Stop the Taking of Our Land.” The only things being “protected” are the “rights” of your neighbors’ to surround your house with high-rise condos and strip malls. There’ll be absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Voters in Montana, Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada and Arizona are being exploited and manipulated by this slippery gang of snake-oil salesmen. There’ll be all kinds of scary rhetoric about Eminent Domain abuse; about “protecting your property.” But most of these initiatives don’t even deal with Eminent Domain at all. Behind all the smoke and mirrors, these assholes have only one goal: to make you completely powerless and unable to protect the quality of life in your own neighborhood.

What, you don’t want to have a ten-story apartment building towering over your one-story house? Tough shit.

Technically, these “property rights” douchebags aren’t actually eliminating any land-use regulations. Instead they’re using the zany “logic” that ANY restrictions on what a property owner does with his/her property is a “taking” by the government under the Fifth Amendment. The property owner must be “compensated” by the government (the taxpayers — that’s us) if he’s unable to extract maximum profit from his property. This idea has been kicking around since at least the early '90s; but with this current stealth campaign it has more momentum than ever.

Since most state and local governments are too short of cash to be compensating developers, the property owners will be able to do whatever they want with their land.

Hey, this is pretty cool. You can disobey any law you don’t like, and if the government wants to make you obey that law, they have to pay you. Get paid for obeying the law — I like it.

In order to get maximum use out of my $80,000 sports car, I insist on driving as fast as I want. No speed limits or stop signs; no traffic signals. OR, I can get paid a little “bonus” every time I drive the speed limit or stop at a stop sign. This car is my property and I’ll damn well do what I want with it.

And think of the scams you could pull on the local taxpayers. Anyone could say “I want to cut down all the trees in my yard and put up a 12-story condominium complex. What, I can’t? OK, pay up!”

“I want to turn my 2-story office building into a high-rise. What do you mean there’s a height limit? Show me the money!”

Oregon already has a law just like this; it was passed by voters in 2004. It’s a total mess. Hopefully the voters of these other six states can learn from Oregon’s mistake.

cross-posted at Bring It On!


Blogger dusty said...

God, this is a great post! I will have to do something on it since I am a Cali resident..thanks for reminding me of this one. I have been doing posts on the various propositions.

September 20, 2006 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Dusty: Until I saw that article, I didn't know about the other five states. I only knew about the one in Washington. This campaign is totally off the public radar, and that needs to change.

September 20, 2006 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger Carl Osgood said...

The idea that property rights are so supreme they can trump the public good is one of the more dangerous ones floating around in our country. It's good that you're alerting people to this.

September 21, 2006 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carl: Yeah, there needs to be a balance. There might be too many restrictions on property owners, but people have a right to not have their neighborhood suddenly change from rural to suburban. If a person wants to tear down his one-story house and build a 4-story monster home, this will affect his neighbors and they have rights too.

September 21, 2006 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

Obviously you are familiar with the Kelo decision. That was one time where the left really let me down. It is really weird when you look at a decison and you agree with the Tomas/Scalia dissent (seperated at birth?).

Good job on catching this. As usual you have proved yourself as one of the top muckrakers out there.

Keep it up! (and I mean that in the most a-sexual way possible)

September 21, 2006 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Prague Twin: Thanks. Yeah, that Supreme Court decision really sucked. I never saw one blogger or letter-to-the-editor or editorial in favor it it. I think those justices were the only five people in America who were in favor of Eminent Domain abuse.

But it's really sleazy for a huge development group to take advantage of the public's loathing of that Supreme Court decision, and try to use it for getting rid of all zoning and land-use laws. I sure hope the public sees through these scams.

September 21, 2006 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger I.M. Dedd said...

Exploitation??? Smoke and mirrors???? Wow! I didn't see that coming!

September 21, 2006 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

I.M. Dedd: Who knew?? I'm just shocked that our honorable Republicans would sink to such deceitful tactics.

September 21, 2006 at 5:02 PM  

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