Property rights activists are floating a new regulatory takings measure—this time in Alaska.
A new ballot initiative is being proposed in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, an area north of Anchorage that is expected to experience rapid growth in the coming decades.
Why a “property rights” bill in “Mat-Su”? Tough to say. Property is so lightly regulated there that the borough’s website prominently includes this explanation:
Zoning, Land Use and Building Regulations DO Exist in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Be advised that permits may be required.
That’s right: may. Is there any legitimate need for regulatory takings measure here? Or is there something else going on?
Here’s a theory.
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(And, yes, this is just a theory.) In some ways it’s not surprising that an intensely local ballot measure is being proposed in rural Alaska. It’s precisely in keeping with the strategy that property rights radicals are rumored to follow. Having been stymied for years at the federal level, they resorted to Plan B, the states. But after an initial success in Oregon, the states have mostly handed them convincing, expensive, and ideologically damaging defeats. That leaves them with Plan C: local areas. Unfortunately for them, even in its earliestgenerations, Plan C has been a failure. But by retreating to the Mat-Su and other far-flung localities, they can hope to regain enough momentum to float these measures elsewhere.
At the moment, the activists’ website claims that the measure is already qualified it for the October ballot. (That seems fishy since the ballot language seems to be worded for a vote in 2006.) Anyway, word has it that the language is still being hashed out, so it’s not yet clear what Mat-Su voters can expect. The current version does not appear to be retroactive, unlike Oregon’s Measure 37, and it includes the usual exemptions for public nuisances, federal laws, health and safety, and sex commerce. So while the proposed initiative is more reasonable than, say, Initiative 933 was in Washington, it will by its very nature hamstring local democracy and sow the seeds of an unwise development free-for-all.
(h/t to David Goldberg at Smart Growth America)
You’re right on, Eric. That’s what they’re doing: trying to get some numbers for marketing purposes. I’ll call some of my peeps up there. And Kateyb will call some of her peeps up there, some of them will be the same peeps and we’ll flood the Mat-Su valley with knowledge to defeat the PPR scourge!! Grrrrr!!!! Uh…ahem. BTW, as long as the folks up there see both sides of the story, they’ll vote this down. They fight very, very hard on the east side of the valley to preserve their quality of life. They’ll have none of this.
I don’t know what this measure is—haven’t seen it in the media here—but the residents of Mat-Su had quite a scare a couple of years ago when Evergreen Resources came in looking for coal-bed methane, and property owners were unpleasantly surprised to learn about split-estates. I think it stimulated some interest in more land-use controls, thought whether the borough passed anything I don’t know.
Anyone living in the Mat-Su Borough knows that public officials here ARE the development whores. I don’t know if this proposition will achieve much, but judging from the negative reactions of the local people in power, it actually looks promising. The major proposition opponents stand to benefit most from multi-billion dollar bridge fiascos (check out who owns land near these projects up for development), highway expansions, ports and rampant growth (these are NOT eco-friendly folks). I’m glad they’re finally afraid of the property owners for a change. They’ve been crudely abusing the regulations and laws (and they can alter them on-the-fly) for decades, when and where they please…if you are not a preferred citizen or good ol’ buddy your rights are expendable.Don’t worry, they have a borough attorney that serves one purpose – find a loophole to benefit the Borough “goals”, (project of the week) which they will eventually discover and destroy any reasonable person’s life that gets in their way. This place is all about the Big Fish in the Little Pond syndrome. Mat-Su growth is out of control, but not because people are abusing the land. They were invited, solicited, pampered and they came. Traffic jams, bad moods, $6.98 for a gallon of milk?…..arggggghhh. The Big Fish with the “only store in town” slogans are being eaten by Target, WalMart and faster food. NOW they want to be more selective and regulate things. Bad karma….bad, bad karma. It is mildly amusing to watch them flop around like the suckers they truly are.The Borough does not want to spend the new tax revenues on actual services for the public. They want to blow it on more big development ventures and more good paying positions in local government for all their kids and grandkids. Basic services – road maintenance, fire service, landfills, environmental concerns…those things are always on their to-do list, beneath a long list of resource plundering, more planning and mega-projects. I sincerely wish elected officials and the people they hire to run things could be trusted to do the right thing – to make things better, but that has not proven to be the case here.”Zoning, Land Use and Building Regulations DO Exist in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Be advised that permits may be required.” Be advised, the “may be required” is the real issue here. In reality those magic words have been used to regulate people, not land. Make sure you vote for the right party, or have the right name…or pay… just use your imaginination to run with that “loophole”. Looks like somebody did, and came up with a proposition. I think property owners simply want the laws and regulations equally, consistently and fairly applied, then consider tougher codes. Protecting taxpayers from frivolous lawsuits as an argument against the proposition? I’ll remember to laugh as I hit another pothole while blindly coughing up dust from the gravel roads they ran out money to repair, maintain or pave. Oops, a new pet project ran over budget. No road service this month.There’s my rant. I have to go get a wheel alignment….again.
Let me be the first to share the wonderful news! Prop. 1 in Alaska was defeated today 2 to 1. The community came together, and people from all walks of life supported its defeat. An open thank you to all in Alaska who worked so hard to defeat that awful would-be law, and a special thank you to all of you from other states who warned us of the threats it posed, and helped us to avoid making a terrible and costly mistake.
These Private Property Rightist laws are no-brainers to vote down once the public has all the information with which to decide. ADN had the Prop defeated by a 2:1 margin. Only a small minority wants to enact laws that remove protections on private property.