The Farm Bureau today filed an initiative with the Secretary of State to restrict the ability of local and state governments to regulate land use. The Washington State Farm Bureau represents corporate farming interests in Washington state.
The final text of the initiative has not been filed with the Secretary of State according to the Farm Bureau because they have not given its wording final approval. But in a press release,
the Farm Bureau calls it a “Property Rights” initiative and then later calls it the “Property Fairness initiative“.
The initiative as best I can determine from the press release would require that before any new regulations could be enacted, the government entity would have to determine “the damage to the use and value of the affected parcel” that the regulation would cause. Costly studies would be necessary. The words damage and value are loaded words and I see now the potential for lawsuits for compensation over “lost value.” Think of the return on investment possible when what was a swampy woods area to most people was really a “prime potential shopping center to a developer when the case goes to court. Taxpayers will foot the bill for the lawsuits.
Using the threat of lawsuits is a form of extortion by the developers. Washington voters should beware of this initiative and not sign it. It is basically an end run by developers around zoning regulations by imposing a costly threat of lawsuits by developers if they are not allowed to do what they want.
The measure requiring compensation for lost property value that Oregonians recently passed was overturned in the courts.