All over Arizona, city and county officials have been following the new citizens' enacted law by not forcing zoning overlays and other unwanted "do-gooder" districts (read, historic, neighborhood, etc) on property owners.
Why? Because they know that by imposing their elected power to pass regulations which diminish an owners property values, they put the taxpayers in jeopardy of having to pay property owners for their loss. It is irresponsible for city council members to expose taxpayers to such lawsuits.
The "rule-of-thumb" is choice ... whether or not a property owner chooses to participate in a historical designation, or the like, and allow for said owner(s) to opt-out or opt-in.
Some specific areas are ripe for a historical district and such designations will actually increase the property values; but many times some properties are just old and the forced designation makes these properties uneconomical. People bought such properties knowing the existing regulations only to have the rules change after they made their investment -- many times their lifetime investment, now ruined by some local political activists prancing around saying, "Wouldn't it be nice if ..."
The Arizona city and county officials, for too long, did not respect these property rights and the losses created, thus the overwhelming passage of Prop. 207. It is known as "push-back."
In spite of the so-called "collective wisdom" that the city and county governments have gleaned since the passage of Prop. 207, the pretty little buttercups from Flagstaff have thumbed their collective city council's noses at property owners and passed an historical district with no opt-out provisions. Guess what ...!?!
The City of Flagstaff (read, taxpayers) is getting sued! Not only are they in the process of getting hauled into court, but they are being opposed by one of the pre-eminent law firms in the United States of America, the Pacific Legal Foundation. (PLF)
Here is the release issued by the PLF: (Be sure and click to read their "demand letter")
by Timothy Sandefur
The Pacific Legal Foundation today filed a demand letter with the City of Flagstaff, Ariz., which starts the clock ticking toward filing a lawsuit under Proposition 207, the Arizona Private Property Rights Act. This will be the first case invoking the protections of the Act.
The case challenges the new city ordinance adopted last night, which imposes a "historic district overlay" on a portion of the city. Essentially a new layer of zoning, this overlay imposes severe height and width restrictions on properties in the area and creates a new bureaucracy with power to deny property owners the right to renovate their homes.
PLF represents Jon Regner, a Flagstaff firefighter who purchased his property with the intention of renovating it and living in one house while renting out the other. The new ordinance prohibits him from doing this. PLF also represents several other landowners whose property rights are being trampled upon. Fortunately, with Arizona's powerful new property rights protection law, these property owners have a legal tool with which to defend themselves.
Arizona local governments and citizens were working with each other to understand the new operating procedures since the passage of Prop. 207. And, from Big Rattler's perspective, they were doing O.K. with only a few dust-ups.
Even the rabid Prop. 207 haters like Pima County land-czar and self-anointed prophet of all things being built now and in the future, his eminence Chuck Huckleberry, had to yield to the provisions in Prop. 207. (That does not mean he has stopped trying to figure out to work around the law to retain his "rightful" throne.)
Hopefully, the Flagstaff City Council will do their due-diligence and realize that they must allow those property owners, who choose not to be included in the newly designated historical district, a legal avenue to opt-out.
As always ... Big Rattler will keep you posted.