Friday, November 26, 2004

Property Rights with a Vengeance

From The New York Times:
Property Rights Law May Alter Oregon Landscape


Published: November 26, 2004

PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 20 - Over the past three decades, Oregon has earned a reputation for having the most restrictive land-use rules in the nation. Housing was grouped in and near the cities, while vast parcels of farmland and forests were untouched by so much as a suburban cul-de-sac.

Environmentalists and advocates for "smart growth" cheered the ever-growing list of rules as visionary, while some landowners, timber companies and political allies cried foul.

But in a matter of days, the landowners will get a chance to turn the tables. Under a ballot measure approved on Nov. 2, property owners who can prove that environmental or zoning rules have hurt their investments can force the government to compensate them for the losses - or get an exemption from the rules.

Supporters of the measure, which passed 60 percent to 40 percent, call it a landmark in a 30-year battle over property rights....

Whatever the benefits of Oregon's land-use rules, Mr. Day added, "the people paying the cost are property owners."...

Both sides expect the measure to survive judicial scrutiny, and the state and local governments are to start fielding claims on Dec. 2. If claims are found to be valid and the government will not or cannot pay, it must instead waive any restrictions that went into force after the owners - or their parents or grandparents - acquired the land....
Liberty and property rights: inextricable values.