Property Rights

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When The Government Takes Your Home

January 2, 2010 in Publications

In its controversial five-to-four decision in the 2005 Kelo v. City of New London case, the U.S. Supreme Court gave government officials the power to take property from local homeowners and sell it to private corporations as part of a mandatory economic development plan. 

New Study Finds Washington Needs Eminent Domain Reform

in Press releases

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.

Protecting the People of Washington from Eminent Domain Abuse

March 1, 2008 in Publications

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.

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.