Christina Sandefur

Courts should stop cities from evading property rights laws

Posted on April 24, 2013 | Author: Christina Sandefur
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Just over six years ago, Arizona voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 207, one of the nation’s strongest protections for property rights, which requires governments to pay property owners when regulations reduce their property values.

But cities across Arizona are skirting the law to avoid compensating property owners. A recent example is the City of Sedona’s attempt to circumvent Prop. 207 by masquerading a property regulation as a health and safety ordinance, arguing it is exempt from the law. Thanks in part to the Goldwater Institute’s legal work, the courts saw through the façade and ruled that cities can’t avoid Prop. 207 by merely claiming to advance public health without offering any evidence.

Now, the City of Flagstaff is arguing that property owners should have less time to sue for just compensation. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals has sided with the city and against the intent of the voters, effectively shortening the deadline to sue under Prop. 207 by three months and blocking property owners from enforcing their rights in court.

This isn’t the first time that Flagstaff has ignored Prop. 207. The city previously imposed an extra pre-suit requirement on property owners, making the Prop. 207 claim process burdensome, confusing, and virtually unenforceable. It took the legislature’s intervention to rescue property owners, passing a corrective law drafted by the Goldwater Institute to ensure property owners have their day in court.

Individuals seeking to protect their rights under Prop. 207 should not have to visit the legislature every time cities come up with an inventive way to sidestep the law. The Goldwater Institute, which has been more active and effective than any other organization in enforcing property rights protections under Prop. 207, filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to hear this case and send a strong signal to cities that they can’t make end runs around Arizona voters.

Learn More:

Supreme Court amicus brief

(Un)welcome to Sedona!

Giving Property Owners their Day in Court

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