Friday, August 18, 2006

NO on AZ Prop. 207, a dishonest developer scam

PHOENIX -- Don't fall for the latest lies and scam attempt by big corporate (mostly out-of-state) developers.

Vote No On Prop. 207!

Arizona Taxpayer Nightmare

Costly for Taxpayers. Harmful to Neighborhoods.

Proposition 207, deceptively titled “Private Property Rights Protection Act,” is a confusing bait-and-switch proposition on this fall’s ballot. It pretends to guard against eminent domain problems, but in reality it is an extremely expensive, confusing and bureaucratic measure that forces governments to pay speculators for alleged value losses or waive zoning laws and rules for them. Our taxes would be paid to special interests simply because those interests must comply with laws that protect our homes, our property and our communities.

Prop. 207 is primarily a project of out-of-state speculators — they spent nearly a million dollars just to get it on the ballot. If Arizona voters take their bait on the ballot this fall, we, not these out-of-state deep pockets, will have to live with the consequences of this costly and dangerous measure.

No on Prop. 207 - Who are the losers if Prop. 207 passes?

Taxpayers – This would enable irresponsible developers to demand huge payouts from taxpayers for alleged losses to their property values. Just ask the people of Oregon where a similar measure was passed in 2004. They now face nearly $4 billion so far in potential payouts to speculators. This money must be diverted from critical programs such as public safety, public health, parks and transportation.

Local communities and local voters – Prop. 207 would undermine the ability of local voters to decide what types of projects are appropriate for their neighborhoods and how their communities should grow.

Police and fire departments – They would face tighter operating budgets as taxes are diverted from essential services and they would have to deal with the inadequate infrastructure of unregulated development.

Businesses – Prop. 207 invites lawsuits to determine what actions require what levels of compensation. This would bring local land-use processes to a halt while courts sort it all out – delaying and increasing the costs for worthy local projects.

Neighborhoods – New zoning or ordinances to protect historic buildings, changes in density or building height limits, or any neighborhood preservation codes would be impossible or very costly to implement.

Wildlife, native plants, and natural areas – Protecting wildlife habitat, native plants, hillsides, and washes would be more costly or unfeasible under Prop. 207. Far-sighted efforts to preserve our quality of life, such as Pima County’s award-winning Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, would be crippled.

Cultural preservation – Prop. 207 would make it expensive or impossible to protect cultural and archaeological sites, an extremely important part of Arizona’s history and culture.

Vote NO on Prop. 207

To learn more go to

Organizations Opposing Proposition 207 (growing daily)

Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix

Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Tucson

Center for Biological Diversity

Defenders of Wildlife

Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition

Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter


Arizona League of Conservation Voters

Republicans for Environmental Protection

Friends of Flagstaff’s Future

Arcadia/Camelback Mountain Neighborhood Association

Arizona Public Interest Research Group

Old World Communities, LLC

Richard Elias, Chairman, Pima County Board of Supervisors

Arizona Planning Association

Trust for Public Lands

Arizona Preservation Foundation

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy


B. Kalafut said...

Oh, goodness, those out of state developers are frightening! But seriously, their influence on local politics in this state, the willingness of County Supervisors and corrupt local officials like Prescott's Sam Steiger to bend over backwards to appease them and to subsidize their pet projects, just boils the blood. I ran unsuccessfully for Supe down here in Pima County a couple of years ago on a platform that called largely for an end to subsidized growth. I certainly got a lot of thumbs up, but didn't have the political machinery needed to gain traction.

Good thing, then, that it wasn't them who spent the money to back this thing. Americans for Limited Government is about as grassroots as it gets.

For an alternate take on 207, see my article on Goldwater State. I see this as a matter of simple justice for all. If the government takes any of your property at all, you deserve compensation, whether you're a developer, a small business owner, a rancher, or a retired grandmother!

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anyone talk about property owners in not so nice areas... areas that municipalities want to redevelop? Along with land owners, these lower-income homeowners are the ones who are to most likely be protected by Prop 207. Why doesn't anyone talk about them?

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anyone talk about property owners in not so nice areas... areas that municipalities want to redevelop? Along with land owners, these lower-income homeowners are the ones who are to most likely be protected by Prop 207. Why doesn't anyone talk about them?

Anonymous said...

Vote YES on Proposition 207
Arizona HOPE will stop local governments from using eminent domain to take private property for private development in order to generate more tax revenue. The proposed intiative will define "public use" in all eminent domain cases as:
(i) The possession, occupation and enjoyment of the land by the public or by public agencies.
(ii) The use of land for the creation or functioning of public utilities.
(iii) The acquisition of property to cure a direct and immediate threat caused by the current use of the land (such as removing structures that are beyond repair or that are unfit for human habitation or use).
(iv) The acquisition of abandoned property.
The initiative recognizes that many times so-called "just" compensation is not truly just, and seeks to ensure that individuals displaced from their homes are relocated to an equivalent home in a decent and safe neighborhood.
Physically taking someone's property is not the only way that government can "take" someone's land. The government can regulate land to the point where someone may still hold the title to the land, but have lost all of the land's value.
Citizens resoundingly believe that these types of regulatory takings need to be compensated. In a poll conducted on the Arizona Republic's website, 82% of respondents said they would vote for a measure that required government to pay just compensation when zoning laws diminished the value of private property.
The initiative will give property owners an opportunity to seek compensation when government changes the rules of the game, decreasing their property's fair market value.
Example: Emmett McLoughlin owns property in Pima County. When he purchased the land it was zoned for retail business use. When neighbors learned the land was going to be developed, they went to the Pima County Board of Supervisors and asked the Board to downzone the land so that it could not be developed. The Board of Supervisors did just that - and in a very short amount of time. Though McLoughlin still owns the title to the land, it is now worth a fraction of what he paid.
The initiative does not require governments to compensate property owners "for every zoning or land use decision they make." For example, the proposed referendum does not apply to land use laws that:
1. Limit or prohibit land use decisions for the protection of the public's health and safety, including regulations relating to fire and building codes, health and sanitation, transportation or traffic control, solid or hazardous waste, and pollution control;
2. Limit or prohibit the use or division of real property commonly and historically recognized as a public nuisance under common law;
3. Are required by federal law;
4. Limit or prohibit the use or division of a property for the purpose of housing sex offenders, selling illegal drugs, or adult oriented businesses if the land use laws are consistent with the constitutions of this state and the United States;
5. Establish locations for utility facilities;
6. Are existing statutory restrictions on land uses around Arizona's military bases;
7. Do not directly regulate an owner's land; or
8. That are enacted before the effective date of the proposed referendum. The initiative is also clear that it applies only to the property directly affected by a land use regulation. It does not apply to neighboring properties.

Anonymous said...

Vote YES on Prop 207!

Proposition 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act is perhaps the most poorly understood measure on the November ballot.

The Tucson Weekly, for example, gets it dead wrong. It isn't about getting rid of zoning laws or the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, and wouldn't even have that effect.

Capitalizing on the pro-liberty backlash against the Kelo decision, Americans for Limited Government, a national, non-partisan, action-oriented group, financed a drive to put measures on the ballot in several states to limit eminent domain abuse and related misuses of power.

Prop. 207 addresses the central issues of Kelo by ensuring that public use is a judicial, not legislative or regulatory, question in Arizona and defining it to be:

The possession, occupation and enjoyment of the land by the public or by public agencies.

The use of land for the creation or functioning of public utilities.

The acquisition of property to cure a direct and immediate threat caused by the current use of the land (such as removing structures that are beyond repair or that are unfit for human habitation or use).

The acquisition of abandoned property.

Were it to stop there, it'd already be worthy of support, but it gets even better. For starters, Prop. 207 redefines "just compensation" for homeowners to mean a comparable safe, sanitary, and habitable dwelling or enough money to buy one. In other words, if 207 passes, the government can't take your home and just give you its cash value if it wouldn't be enough to buy another home. Eminent domain takings will no longer turn homeowners in poor neighborhoods into renters.

The most exciting--and the most controversial--benefit of 207's passage would be its partial-takings clause which requires the government to compensate property owners for regulations such as downzoning (do a search for Emmett McLoughlin to find out why that's a big deal) that take away from the value of their property by directly restricting its use. A list of exceptions can be found at the AZ HOPE website; the obvious ones such as public safety are covered, and unlike the Oregon measure which pioneered the concept of partial-takings, Prop. 207 is not retroactive and won't threaten to bankrupt municipalities all over the state.

Those who say that the partial-takings clause "goes too far" can be divided into three groups: Those who don't know what the measure does, those who haven't thought it through, and those who'd hate to see the government's power checked. For the last there is no remedy but ridicule--call a whip a whip! The first are usually concerned that the government will have to pay for anything it does anywhere that negatively influences property values; the text of the measure makes it quite clear that only laws directly regulating an owner's land would require compensation. I'll try to do something for the middle group here.

The modern conception of property is that it is a "bundle of rights", and that having title to land gives the right of exclusion and to various forms of use, the limits of which are, in urban areas, often determined by zoning and the municipal code. If you take away some of those rights, it's not "just like" taking some of the property; it is taking some of the property. The owner may still own the land but he is poorer because some of his right to it is gone; ownership, pop libertarians be damned, is not an all-or-nothing affair. Since the passage of the Bill of Rights and before, we have operated under the principle that the government, servant of the people, must provide compensation when it takes their property. Passage of Proposition 207 updates the Fifth Amendment's protections so that they take into account the creative swindles of modern municipal governments, ensuring that the government must pay if it takes some property rights just as it would pay if it took all property rights.

Make no mistake of thinking that Proposition 207 only concerns megadevelopers. Property is savings and livelihood; the partial takings clause protects homeowners, small businesspeople, farmers, landlords, and developers alike. Proposition 207 would force politicians to consider the human cost of regulation and to take responsibility for harm done to individuals. It's a matter of simple justice. Vote "yes" on 7 November and encourage your friends to do the same.

emennes said...

Time for you to do your homework!

I just read another rant concerning prop 207 and disagree. What is the governments answer to the peoples question; “what constitutes a regulatory taking?”

Think about it... How much of your private property can the government take, thru police power, before they have to pay just compensation for the property they took?

Is just compensation required only when the government takes “the whole thing” but not required when it takes just less than 100%...........???

Think about that!

When is a taking a taking? What if its your children's property?

Even those slinging the most beeee ess about police power (free-money) v. eminent domain (just compensation) would agree that a “total taking” requires compensation. 99.9% for Free my ass; its an abuse of the system!

It’s disingenuous for the opposition to attack the nobility of ballot measure 207 inasmuch as it truly prevents government and special interests from continuing to abuse the use of its police powers. Imagine your property being subjected to a regulatory taking that just nuked your property value and then learning that because the government has left you with a “token interest” or “token use” it can avoid payment for the property it took. This is what’s happening and it’s wrong! Prop 207 ends government abuse of its regulatory powers (it does not end regulatory power), protects property rights and ensures due process under the law.

Perhaps your group should take a minute to understand what caused the environmental issues you now endeavor to address… Yea, it was the “old school” regulatory system that created the segregated land uses in the first place which also caused the environmental challenges we’re faced with today.

Today, and for the last 10 years, we have had access to excellent science; planning and smart growth principles intended to advance many of the solutions you’re seeking. The problem is that our federally required and state adopted growth plans, as also required by Title 9 which contain the 16 principle growth elements, are not being implemented. Unfortunately, they’re only being adopted; adopted in order to meet the minimum federal requirements to keep the federal dollars coming in rather than for the noble solutions they contain.

We can achieve much more for our community and global environment by using an honest approach with noble purposes rather than continuing to allow our government to abuse its use of police powers for special interests.

Our founding fathers thought your property rights were pretty important and maybe you should too…

Yes on 207

Ernie Mennes
Advocate for Smart Growth