Proposition 90 in California: They Sow, We Reap

Where does land value come from?  Is it from the efforts of an individual owner, or from those of the society at large to which individual owners glom on?  If the former, then owners might indeed be entitled to compensation when an act of government diminishes their possibility of monetary return.

But if land values come all or in part from the work and investment of the society at large, then so-called “takings” doctrine is itself a form of taking, from all of us.


Takings, Givings and the Tragedy of the Petulant Me

Of all the whiners and complainers that beset the politics of this country, the “property rights” lobby is surely among the most self-dramatizing. I’m not talking about people who have a normal concern about their property – who don’t want people using their windows for target practice or making bonfires in their yards.  I’m talking about people who regard just about every restriction upon their property as a “taking” of it; and who demand compensation from the taxpayers, while they rail at the impending totalitarian state.

What such people lack in maturity and wisdom, they have in money or moneyed enablers.  The result has been a raft of ballot measures that would turn “takings” dogma into law.  The first to pass was Measure 37 in Oregon, a state that was a pioneer in land use laws.  Not coincidentally, the state today is green and clean, downtown Portland is thriving,  and sprawl has been remarkably contained.  Measure 37 pretty much dismantled that system.  Now kindred ones are on ballots in Montana, Idaho, and Washington State.


Take and Take

I had this lawyer. Some big guys were suing me and I had this lawyer. The big guys, they used all the tricks. Shopped for a friendly forum. Pleaded hardship and poverty, even though some of them are rich as sheiks.

They won the first round, but no surprise there. We’d win on appeal I thought. I kept waiting for the lawyer to file. I was patient. The wheels of justice turn slowly, and all.


Takings and Givings

For years, property rights fundamentalists have yearned for a world in which they get compensation for just about every restriction on the use of their property. It’s fine for the community to pump up the value of their property, through such things as highways, schools, proximity to other developments, and the like. But when they have to give something back — well, that’s a “taking.”

In Oregon they have gotten their wish. On election day, voters there passed Measure 37, which exempts landowners from any zoning laws enacted since they bought their property, unless they get full monetary compensation. Until now, Oregon has had the most thorough and effective approach to land use in the entire country. Cities have thrived, forests and farmland have been preserved, kids have enjoyed the same kind of open space that their parents did.