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!