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Thu, Nov. 9th, 2006, 10:41 pm
cyotha: Land use hits the ballot across the West

A coordinated campaign put initiatives to "protect property values" on the ballot in a number of Western states on Tuesday, November 7. The initiatives fell into two categories: first, those limiting government's power of eminent domain, or the ability to condemn (purchase) private land for public use; and second, "pay or waive" laws which would require government to compensate landowners if any law or regulation caused a reduction in the value of their property.

The eminent-domain ballot measures were straightforward reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v. City of New London. In that case, the court ruled that a city could condemn land in order to hand it over to a private developer.

In contrast, "pay or waive" initiatives basically do away with any zoning or environmental regulations, because no matter what, all zoning ends up affecting somebody's property value. Fortunately, almost every state that had a pay-or-waive initiative on the ballot rejected it, except for Arizona.

Links:

Here's a pre-election report on "Direct Democracy and Development" from the USC's Initiative & Referendum Institute (pdf format).

And here's great coverage of land-use election results by Dan Richardson at Newwest.net.