Last autumn, Western states braced against an onslaught of “takings” initiatives masquerading as protections for property rights. In the run-up to the elections, voters were regaled with scary stories of abusive government regulation and eminent domain. Many of the stories turned out to be apocryphal, but some were genuine. And those of us who warned against the initiatives, such as I-933 in Washington, said we’d support real fixes for real problems.
Enter stage right: a good bill in the Washington legislature on eminent domain. It proposes a small but easy fix:
The bill would require public agencies to send a certified letter notifying property owners of any meeting to take action on acquiring their land. It says notice also has to be published in the newspaper.
There appears to be no opposition. And there shouldn’t be—this law should have been on the books years ago.
The bill doesn’t address all the relevant concerns—or even the biggest concerns—but it’s a step in the right direction. More government transparency, more community-level democracy, and better protection for property owners: I hope we can all agree on those things.