Property Rights

Your home is your castle—unless the government thinks it should be a shopping center. Learn how citizens and local governments can protect homes and businesses from government takeovers.

<p>Your home is your castle—unless the government thinks it should be a shopping center. Learn how citizens and local governments can protect homes and businesses from government takeovers.</p>

A campaign has been launched against a measure that would cap cell-phone contracts to one year and make it easier for consumers to cancel a contract.

And a conservative think-tank based in Arizona released a report warning that the legislation would hurt consumers by jacking up prices and limiting choices.

Early this month, Valley residents received a recorded message saying the Arizona Legislature is considering a bill that would create new regulations and would jack up cell-phone rates.

If you believe your home is your castle or that the government can only take it for public use, you should be warned otherwise, says a public-interest law firm that documented thousands of cases nationwide where governments have abused eminent domain.

The report, titled "Public Power, Private Gain," is the first of its kind nationwide to document how often government confiscates private property and hands it over to private developers, says the Institute For Justice, a libertarian-oriented firm based in Washington, D.C.

We have been inundated with stories about the statewide smoking ban that went into effect last week. Reports indicated that patrons cheered at some establishments when the ban became effective on May 1st. The Arizona Republic noted, The air in the Valley just got a little bit clearer, at least inside.

But the law was never really about breathing healthy air. It was about a majority imposing its will on an unpopular minority. And its not the smokers I'm talking about.

Just two months ago, Arizona voters sent a resounding message to their government: hands off our property. Passing Proposition 207 by a 65 percent majority, despite doomsday scenarios from elected officials and bureaucrats, the voters put the clamps on regulations that exceed normal governmental purposes and diminish the value of private property.

Given that public officials are sworn to uphold the law, one might expect them to figure out how to comply with the new limits.­ But, of course, most of the ingenuity is being poured into how to evade them.

Proposition 207, the Property Rights Protection Act, is a great example of citizens using the initiative process exactly as it was intended. Citizens are attempting to protect themselves from local government encroaching on their property rights, when other attempts to obtain relief have failed.

This initiative not only protects against financially motivated eminent domain abuse, it also offers important protections against "regulatory takings." A regulatory taking occurs when government restricts the use of private property to a point that the property's value is reduced.

No one should lose their home just because it lacks curb appeal. Unless the Governor and legislature come to an agreement on eminent domain reform, that will continue to be the situation. That's because the state's "Slum Clearance and Redevelopment" laws let municipalities seize property for such vague reasons as poor "street layout" or "diversity of ownership," whatever that means.

What do a steaming hot cup of coffee, a glazed doughnut and a frozen mocha chill all have in common?  According to the Arizona Court of Appeals, they are all visual blight.

Three years ago, a Mesa code enforcement officer forced Edward Salib to remove every one of the signs advertising the monthly specials from the windows of his doughnut shop.  The City’s sign code prohibits businesses from covering more than 30 percent of a window with signage.

Oregon landowners can breathe a little easier this week.  That's because the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in favor of "Measure 37" '" a ballot initiative designed to protect landowners from the state's central land planners.  In short, it protects landowners by making the government compensate landowners if new land use laws diminish their property's value. 

Eminent domain reform is afoot throughout the nation.  Already, many states have passed, or are in the process of passing, tough laws that prevent eminent domain abuse. On January 17, the Goldwater Institute and the Arizona Chapter of the Institute for Justice will co-host a legislative briefing detailing how Arizona can move forward with effective eminent domain reform. 

The Arizona Supreme Court yesterday rejected Tempe's request for a special action in Tempe v. Valentine.  At issue was whether Tempe's proposal to condemn private property to make way for a developer to erect a shopping mall met the constitutional definition of "public use."  At the trial court, Tempe lost; prompting the city to file its special action petition.