PHOENIX-A new Goldwater Institute policy report by Timothy Sandefur, Playing the Takings Game: How Government Regulates Away Property Rights, examines the impact of land use limitations on property owners. A "regulatory taking" occurs when government restricts or curtails the use of private property and thereby reduces its value. In these cases, poor judicial decisions let government escape compensating property owners as required by the constitution.
An initiative may appear on November's ballot to protect Arizona property owners from these takings. A similar initiative recently passed in Oregon.
"With the stroke of a pen, government can diminish the value of your land. Regulatory takings impair private property rights every bit as much as eminent domain, but courts are reluctant to protect Arizonans against this abuse. This paper sheds light on this issue and provides solutions to protect property owners," says Benjamin Barr, a constitutional policy analyst at the Goldwater Institute.
An example of these underhanded property rights violations is the case of Wonders v. Pima County. In this case, a county ordinance required a landowner to establish a plan for native-plant preservation. The landowner set aside 45 acres as open space that could not be developed, substantially decreasing the value of the land. Even though this land was essentially seized, a court ruled this was not a "regulatory taking" and the owner was not entitled to compensation.
Sandefur, staff attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, says government should compensate landowners, in most cases, when it passes land use limitations that reduce property values. Requiring government to compensate property owners for land use limitations creates an incentive for policymakers to think carefully before they violate property rights.
In the end, this is an issue of basic fairness. The government should compensate people for property it takes from them, whether it is taken outright or in the form of a land use limitation.
Download Playing the Takings Game: How Government Regulates Away Property Rights. Or to have a copy mailed to you, please call or email Ann Seiden, (602) 462-5000 x 223.
Benjamin Barr, Goldwater Institute constitutional policy analyst, (602) 462-5000 x 232.
Starlee Rhoades, Goldwater Institute director of communications, (602) 712-1257.