The Facts on I-933, Measure 37, and You

In the fall of 2006, voters in Washington, Idaho, Montana, California, and Arizona voted on land-use initiatives modeled after Oregon’s Measure 37. Sightline researcher Eric de Place dug into the implications of these initiatives in a series of columns on Sightline’s website. Here’s a summary of six main findings and links to the original posts.

See also Sightline’s “Property Wrongs: Lessons from Oregon” report that looks a real-life case study in the wrongs of property rights—Oregon.

1. MEASURE 37 IS DESTRUCTIVE TO COMMUNITIES IN OREGON

  • Measure 37 endangers farmland. By removing basic protections for agricultural lands, Measure 37 is allowing for more subdivision of farmland, especially in places near cities where development pressure is intense. Many Oregon farmers claim that Measure 37 supporters sold them a bill of goods.
    Selling the farm
    Givings–when regulations create value
    Portland’s new crop–houses
  • It allows for mining next door. Oregon communities are being held hostage to profit-making schemes like mines in residential areas, short-circuiting the community input that is the hallmark of American towns.
    A tale of two mines
  • It threatens national parks: One property owner in Oregon has filed a claim for an energy plant and a suburban subdivision inside a national monument.
    We got the shaft
    Required reading on property “rights”
  • It holds communities hostage: Under Measure 37, Oregon property owners are filing outrageous claims—such as a famous $284 million that taxpayers cannot afford to pay. As result, every single valid claim has resulted in a waiver of land-use laws.
    The 284 million dollar question

 

2. THE COPYCAT INITIATIVES ARE DEEPLY UNFAIR TO COMMUNITIES

 

3. THEY WILL COST TAXPAYERS

  • Taxpayers must pay property owners to obey the law: In Oregon, property owners file outrageous claims—claims that taxpayers cannot afford to pay. As result, every single valid claim has resulted in a waiver of land-use laws.
    The 284 million dollar question
  • Simply administering the measures will cost taxpayers billions: In Washington, the paperwork demands of I-933 will saddle taxpayers with more than $1 billion each year. Under 933, taxpayers are on the hook for all the costs of property owners filing claims, including the cost of lawyers for the property owner. And that’s not counting the costs of paying landowners to obey the law.
    I-933: the law that keeps on taking

 

4. THEY REDUCE COMMON-SENSE PROTECTIONS

  • They jeopardize clean water and wildlife. State and local governments may lose their ability to implement federal laws like the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
    This land is … someone’s land
  • They put almost nothing off limits. They may not allow communities to restrict the location of porn shops, strip clubs, or even sex offender housing without paying for it.
    Measure 37 on steroids

 

5. OUT OF STATE AGENDA

 

6. WASHINGTON’S I-933 IS ESPECIALLY FAR-REACHING

  • 933 affects personal property, not just real estate. I-933 affects personal property, including stocks and bonds, vehicles, intellectual property and much, much more. Under I-933, for example, if a requirement to muffle your Harley reduces its value, then you’re entitled to a cash payment or an exemption from the law.
    Property rights ad infinitum
  • 933 ignores health and safety and allows public nuisances. Unless they are compensated, property owners will get a waiver from laws that prevent contaminating groundwater or eroding critical riverbanks that can mitigate floods. And the measure makes no exceptions for laws that prevent public nuisances, such as noxious odors or dangerous pets.
    Measure 37 on steroids

Published: September 23, 2006