Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bogus Reporting on Arizona's Prop 207

Excerpts from Reason Foundation's Leonard Gilroy:

A recent article in the Arizona Republic on the impact of Proposition 207 (see my recent post here) is chock full of misinformation and is a not-so-subtle attempt to undermine the eight-month-old property rights law. Space and time don't permit a thorough fisking of the piece, so I'll focus on a few key spots.

The first three paragraphs offer a clue to the direction of the piece right off the bat:

A new state law billed as a property rights safeguard has dealt a blow to residents and city leaders who want to save old neighborhoods, create shopping districts or influence what is built in their communities.

Hardly. Prop 207 hasn't done anything to restrict cities' ability to plan, create special districts, and the like; rather, it merely holds them accountable for the impacts of these planning decisions on the property rights of affected landowners. Citizens now have a form of relief if cities and counties adopt zoning changes and land use
regulations that devalue private property.

Nothing in the measure precludes or prevents governments from regulating land use; it simply offers aggrieved landowners a remedy, either via compensation for property devaluation or exemption from the regulation at hand. [More ...]

Back to the AZ Republic article...

Arizonans are now finding out that the measure severely limits cities' power to change land use, a crucial tool that helped create signature Valley neighborhoods such as Mill Avenue in Tempe, the Encanto historic district in downtown Phoenix and the Esplanade at 24th Street and Camelback Road.

Again, complete rubbish. As I note above. Nothing in Prop 207 prevents government regulation of land use, it just gives property owners a remedy that did not previously exist. Any intelligent person can read the text of Prop 207 for themselves, and they will find nothing that limits the ability of governments to zone and regulate land use. [More ...]

Boo hoo, whine whine. While I love sidewalk cafes and urban parks as much as the next urbanist, seems to me that in the grand scheme of things, protecting private property rights might just outweigh a few inconveniences and delays suffered on the part urban planners. And, once again (I'm sounding like a broken record), landowners can't "refuse to rezone" under Prop 207. They don't gain any new rights to stop municipal planning and land use regulation under Prop 207--they just get the right to seek compensation or exemption if new rules lower their properties' value. To claim otherwise is just disingenuous spin on the part of Prop 207 opponents. [More ...]

More to come from Reason on Prop 207, starting with a feature I wrote for our upcoming Annual Privatization Report 2007, set for release next week.

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