Property Rights Blues

Property Rights Blues

John D. Echeverria and Thekla Hansen-Young of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute have released an analysis of two state takings “compensation” measures. These are laws championed by property rights advocates that force state governments to compensate landowners for all “regulatory takings.” Essentially, these laws require state governments to pay landowners to comply with land use and environmental rules. From Florida the authors looked at the impact of the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Act and the Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act. From Oregon the authors examined the effects of Measure 37 and Measure 49.
 
The authors reached five conclusions. First, these measures effectively prevent communities from enacting protective measures. Rather than risk pushing through a measure that might ultimately bust their budgets, local governments simply eschew new regulations. Second, the authors found that large landowners and special interests, like timber companies and developers, were the primary beneficiaries of these laws. Third, these laws have been a net generator of land use litigation. Fourth, compensation granted pursuant to these measures are windfalls for claimants because it permits them to evade the responsibilities that apply to the rest of the community. And finally, the authors found that by tying the hands of local governments these laws suppressed local democracy.
 
The full report is here.