Seattle—If you own a home, a farm, a small business or a piece of land in the state of Washington, you should be disturbed to learn the results of a new study released by the Washington Policy Center.
The report, “The Use and Abuse of Washington’s Community Renewal Law,” concludes that, because of Washington’s Community Renewal Law (CRL), home and small-business owners of the Evergreen State are not protected from eminent domain abuse—local government officials can take anyone’s property and sell it to a developer for private gain.
William R. Maurer, Director, Institute for Justice, Washington Chapter Adjunct Scholar, Washington Policy Center, February, 2008
Each year, the state legislature considers a number of bills that address basic civil rights – that is, bills affecting an individual’s rights of personal liberty, rights with which the government cannot constitutionally interfere. One of those basic liberties is the right to own property. In the past two-and-a-half years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s dreadful decision in Kelo v. New London, the legislature has considered a number of bills designed to protect an individual’s right to own property without fear of the government taking it away and giving it to private developers.
Jason Mercier, Director, Center for Government Reform, February, 2008
On November 8, 2007 the state Supreme Court struck down the voter-approved 1% limit on increases in annual property tax collections. The legislature quickly overturned the court and re-enacted the 1% limit, but the court’s action put property tax relief center stage in the policy debate in Olympia.
Seattle - Governor Christine Gregoire will sign a new eminent domain law tomorrow that will open up the essentially secret meetings where local governments decide to use eminent domain. Previously, property owners were forced to seek out postings on obscure government websites to discover whether their property faced condemnation. HB 1458 provides citizens whose property is threatened with direct personal notice of the meetings where the fate of their property could be decided.
William R. Maurer, Adjunct Scholar, January, 2007
The city of Burien, Wash., recently decided that a piece of property owned by the seven Strobel sisters that had long housed a popular diner-style restaurant was not upscale enough for the city's ambitious "Town Square" development, which will feature condos, shops, restaurants and offices. Rather than condemn the property for a private developer and risk a lawsuit, Burien came up with a plan--it would put a road through the property, and the city manager told his staff to "make damn sure" it did. When a subsequent survey revealed that the road would not affect the building itself, but only sideswipe a small corner of the property, the staff developed yet another site plan that put the road directly through the building. A trial court concluded that the city's actions might be "oppressive" and "an abuse of power"--but allowed the condemnation anyway. The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Washington Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Seattle - Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna will create a task force to review Washington's eminent domain laws and recommend changes for the 2008 legislative session to better protect property owners from abuse, he announced yesterday.
William R. Maurer, Executive Director, Institute for Justice, Washington Chapter, December, 2006
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo decision has deeply shaken Americans. The ruling says the U.S. Constitution does not prevent state and local officials from seizing people’s homes and small businesses and giving them to private developers.
William R. Maurer, Washington Policy Center Adjunct Scholar, and Executive Director of the Institute for Justice Washington Chapter, December, 2006
Private property is the foundation of a free society. Property rights give citizens the means to defend all their other rights from the encroachments of government or the incursions of others.
Property gives people the means to pursue their dreams and live their lives the way they choose. Private property also provides people with the ability to help others, through their time and voluntary giving. When government takes property through the abuse of its eminent domain power, it makes it harder for citizens to defend their rights, pursue their dreams or help others.
Matthew Manweller, Adjunct Scholar, November, 2006
In the recent election, Initiative 933 – a proposal to compensate property owners for value lost to government regulations – failed, but the consequences created by burgeoning land-use regulations remain. Fears that Initiative 933’s passage would inhibit the ability of local and state governments to maintain the rural areas in our state were one reason the initiative failed. Unfortunately, opponents of Initiative 933 failed to grasp the counterintuitive notion that, sometimes, laws designed to protect rural areas actually backfire and cause additional development.
Todd Myers, Director, Center for the Environment, October, 2006
Across the United States, there are a growing number of “property fairness” initiatives designed to increase protection for individual landowners from the rise in land use regulation. The most significant of these efforts to have success was Measure 37 which passed in Oregon in 2004 earning 61% of the vote statewide.