In the aftermath of last year’s battle royale over property rights, some of Washington’s leaders in Olympia have come up with an interesting proposal: an attempt at compromise brokered by the nonpartisan William D. Ruckelshaus Center.
My sense is that a sizeable chunk of those who voted for Initiative 933 might find their concerns addressed by compromise solutions. Many of the strongest objections to property regulations, at least in Washington, seem to be objections to procedure—opaque bureaucracies, unfair fee systems, unreliable permitting standards, and the like. These sorts of procedural concerns can, I think, be addressed fairly easily without eroding the substance of growth management or other protections for communities.
Indeed, fixing these procedural problems where they exist should be high on Washington’s list of priorities. It’s a basic question of fairness. Moreover, ensuring that government functions fairly and efficiently should be in pretty much everyone’s best interest.
But in addition to those who have procedural objections to growth management, there are also hard core activists who want drastically fewer restrictions on what people can do with private property. Whether their motivations are ideological or pragmatic (or both), it’s unlikely that the hard core bloc of I-933 supporters can be appeased by a collaborative solution. Then again, this bloc is probably a minority, even within the distinct minority of supporters of I-933—so maybe their likely intransigence won’t matter too much.
In any case, I’m intrigued by the idea of a brokered solution like this one. Much better to give collaboration an honest shot than end up with the sort of legal-legislative gridlock that Oregon is currently facing in the wake of Measure 37. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of Washington’s attempt.