Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, has an article here explaining how recent claims that the eminent domain reform ballot initiative that they've put forward will not threaten the state's legitimate power to provide water for its citizens--contrary to the claims being advanced by the anti-property rights League of Cities.
The East Valley Tribune in Phoenix, Arizona, has this editorial on Proposition 207 and historic preservation districts. The Pacific Legal Foundation is already representing several property owners whose rights are being violated by a "historic preservation" ordinance in Flagstaff.
Preserving buildings that are landmarks which jog personal or civic memories is one of the most powerful ways to connect people with that past, whether the connection is “Carl Hayden slept here” or "my mom used to work there."
But private property rights is one of the core ideals that American history is built upon. The past informs us that people are passionate about their property, but you can’t force them to hold history over any other value it holds.
The Washington State Court of Appeals issued a decision today in Cowlitz County v. Martin, holding that the state had not specifically authorized counties to condemn private property in order to create a "salmon passage" (i.e., to let salmon swim by in a stream). Writes Diana Kirchheim, director of PLF's Washington State office,
the Court of Appeals held that the Salmon Recovery Act does not grant a county, city or tribal government authority to condemn private property. The Court reached that conclusion reasoning that because the act specifically states that any habitat project that occurs on private property requires the express consent of all of the affected property owners, the Legislature did not intend to grant eminent domain authority by passage of the Salmon Recovery Act. Second, the Court reversed the trial court's finding that "fish passage" is a public use. The Court held that there was neither statutory nor constitutional authority for the trial's court's finding that "fish passage" constitutes a public use.
Here's the important language in the opinion. Of course, the state legislature could very easily change things by giving counties this power:
Courts generally give preference to a more specific and more recent statute that addresses the same issue as an older, broader statute. The Salmon Recovery Act directly addresses the public's need concerning salmonid fish passage restoration and protection. In doing so, our Legislature clearly elected not to grant eminent domain power to protect this public interest.... A county is bound by the provisions of the Salmon Recovery Act when seeking to protect salmonid fish passage and may not proceed under [eminent domain]. Furthermore, nothing in the record suggests that the people of Washington considered acquisition of private property for fish passage a public need at the time our constitution was ratified and thus there is no constitutional basis for this condemnation. In sum, there is neither statutory nor constitutional authority for the trial court's finding that "fish passage" constitutes a public use.
Today, CPR will narrowly tailor the focus of our e-newsletter to address one comment by one public servant as quoted in a recent issue of the Orlando Business Journal.
In its July 20th edition, the OBJ quoted a local senior planner (it doesn't matter which city) regarding an ordinance (it doesn't matter what the ordinance is about, but it is an unnecessary one.) and indicated the planner, "...says the code is purposely "vague" to allow commissioners room for interpretation. These issues will be determined on a case-by-case basis as they come up."
This remark is noteworthy because it is rare to have a government official make this statement publicly. Unfortunately, it is not in the least rare for property ordinances to be written intentionally vague, which strips property owners of important due process protections.