Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Just how Prop. 207 was designed to work

The Arizona Republic has a story today that once again illustrates precisely how Prop. 207 was legally designed to work.

If the government takes value away from your property via new rules and regulations for the common good, then the common good (read, taxpayers) should do the right thing and pay the property owner for their loss. In the ethical world, it is called honesty and being a good neighbor.

Before Prop. 207, "do-gooders" backed by their political cronies used to have free reign in sticking it to property owners for their "common good" projects, like historical districts and neighborhood protection overlays. Their "visions of the anointed" were -- in their elevated minds -- of such high proportions and so thoughtful that the lower rubes surely would see the wisdom of their most public endeavors ... even if it took the low-brows a bit of time to become as enlightened as they are.

Well, Big Rattler doesn't spend any time sitting coiled on a cone at the Sedona energy vortex surrounded by crystals, so I just don't get that type of enlightenment. But what property owners do understand is that these "feel-good" districts and overlays make their banker nervous because many use property to back loans and now the property is not worth as much.

One would sure have to spend a lot of time at an energy vortex to dissipate that kind of nervous energy, not to mention you might lose your job spending so much time away from work!

Thankfully, some politicians will try not to break the law, unless they have to; and Prop. 207 is the law.

Here is the link to the story (6-19-07) followed by a couple excerpts:

TEMPE -- A handful of Maple-Ash neighbors initiated the request for the historical designation, a measure that allows a neighborhood to establish suggested standards for building exteriors in order to preserve an area's character.

But while no one seems to dispute that the cozy, quaint texture of Maple-Ash is something special in a Valley full of cookie-cutter homes, the request was hotly contested.

Dozens of longtime neighbors that support the effort say they see historical designation as a way to protect Maple-Ash from development that doesn't fit with the current flavor of the neighborhood. Dozens more oppose the plan because they say it could conflict with landowners' development rights and property values ...

Tempers flared Tuesday night during the Development Review Commission meeting that stretched past 1:30 a.m.

The commission had already delayed making a decision once. Six months ago, the board agreed on a postponement to give city staff time to investigate a new zoning method called "form-based code" that could have helped the neighborhood.

Tuesday, the commission unanimously agreed that form-based code solution was a good idea, but shot down backing historic designation for an entirely different reason: Proposition 207.

The initiative has made waves throughout the state since voters approved it last year. The language of the proposition is dry, but the potential impact could be monetarily devastating for taxpayers.

Proposition 207 mandates that if a city makes a land-use, or zoning, change that decreases the value of a private property owner's land, the city is responsible for providing adequate compensation.

In other words, if Tempe put the historic designation in place on Maple-Ash and a landowner thought his or her property was devalued because of the new development rules that come with such a designation, the landowner could sue the city. Landowners drove that point home Tuesday night when they talked to the commission.

"We obtained an attorney," said Janice Williams, a property owner. "The attorney assured us there would be a case, the city would be liable."

Another property owner predicted historic designation would devalue his homes by 30 and 50 percent.

"It would make an intolerable situation where I would be forced to sue the city through Proposition 207," John Dickson said.

The group pushing for historic designation was disheartened by the decision.

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