Property Rights

What's New

Review of Homestead Property Tax Exemption Proposals

March 1, 2008 in Publications

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.

Eminent Domain Bill Reflecting WPC Recommendation to Be Signed by Governor Tomorrow

in Press releases

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.

Let There Be 'Blight'

January 16, 2007 in Publications

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.

Attorney General Task Force to Review Washington Eminent Domain Laws

in Press releases

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.

Eminent Domain Abuse in Washington: “Can’t Happen Here” is becoming, “Happening Right Now”

December 19, 2006 in Publications

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.

A False Sense of Security: The Potential for Eminent Domain Abuse in Washington

December 15, 2006 in Publications

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.

Land Use Laws Create Unintended Consequences

November 17, 2006 in Publications

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.

A Guide to Initiative 933

October 13, 2006 in Publications

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.

New Study Analyzes Property Fairness Initiative 933

in Press releases

Seattle - Washington Policy Center, the state’s premier public policy, independent research organization, released a new study analyzing Initiative 933, which will appear on the ballot this November. The statewide initiative builds on Oregon’s Measure 37 passed by voters two years ago. “A Citizens Guide to Initiative 933: Property Fairness Initiative” takes a section-by-section look at the wording of I-933 and examines some of the most common critiques of the initiative.

Initiative 933, the Property Fairness Initiative

September 20, 2006 in Publications

A growing trend of “property fairness” initiatives, proposals designed to increase protection for individual landowners from the rise in land-use regulation, has reached Washington state in the form of Initiative 933. The philosophy behind the initiative is similar to the thinking that underlies most environmental regulation.

Read the full Policy Note here