Skip to comments.Oregon's Property-Rights Revolt
Posted on 12/05/2004 11:04:40 PM PST by Lorianne
Three decades ago, Oregon was the leader in statewide land-use zoning. And indeed, its strict laws have helped slow down urban sprawl and preserved rural vistas. But on Dec. 2, Oregon became the national leader in upholding property rights against aesthetic zoning. E-mail newsletters
Get all of today's headlines, or alerts on specific topics. Subscribe for free.
E-mail this story
Write a letter to the Editor
Under Measure 37, a ballot initiative passed by more than 60 percent of the state's voters last month, landowners can be compensated if they prove their property values were reduced by almost any government regulation.
Or, if government can't afford the money for compensation, a waiver can be granted to let a property be used any old way, whether to build a Wal-Mart or rows of McMansions.
This landowners' revolt, if it spreads to other states, could create havoc with the nation's landscape. Or it may simply rebalance the occasional excesses of overzealous but well-meaning government planners.
Oregon's big experiment should be closely watched, both for the clever defenses that some town officials are putting up or for the number of lawsuits the measure is expected to spawn.
Legal battles over property rights have become more common in recent decades. The US Supreme Court has carefully tried to define circumstances under which the "just compensation" clause of the Constitution requires government to pay property owners when regulations "take" value out of private land. It's not easy.
Many regulations enhance property values, while a lack of zoning can often bring values down. Finding the right balance is difficult for any community. In fact, the best zoning is done locally in order to accommodate unique local needs, and not by the state.
Still, Measure 37 sends this intended message: If voters want to regulate property, they should also tax themselves to compensate property owners who lose out.
Actually, we should open it up to the people, letting them, rather than a bunch of radical environmentalists, decide what is good growth.
I'm sure that if Intel wanted to open a factory in Oregon, even the environmentalists would allow it. The problem is, they would coercise Intel to buy up a large section of land donating it to various land trusts in order to get their approval. Now, if Joe Blow wants to build a house on his land, he would be unable to bribe the environmentalists like the major corporations can.
Hmmm? Intel already has a big presence in Oregon.
Not to worry. The courts will figure out what the people really wanted.
And also, if they are homeowners, to raise their property values by increasing the scarcity of local housing.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.