Initiative aimed at abuse of eminent domain: Mojave Valley News, Laughlin NV, 10/11/06

By Neil Young

Proposition 207, also known as the Arizona Home Owners Protection Effort (HOPE), will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot with the following descriptive title:
Establishes rights when government takes property for public use (eminent domain); defines “public use” to include public and public agency use, utilities, acquiring abandoned and hazardous property; prohibits taking property for economic development; requires comparable replacement of primary residences; requires compensation for decreased property value resulting from land use laws.

Arizona HOPE sponsors the initiative and is chaired by Carol Springer, former state treasurer.

“Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court sanctioned eminent domain abuse with its controversial decision, Kelo v. New London, which said that governments can take private property for third-party development,” said Springer.

“Since then, private property rights have literally been bulldozed across the country, with reports of eminent domain abuse skyrocketing since last year. In November, Arizonans will have the chance to vote their property rights back into existence with Proposition 207.

“Proposition 207 will prevent Arizonans' private property from being taken unjustly (for private development and higher tax revenue) and it will require that property owners be justly compensated,” Springer said.

The Arizona Farm Bureau also supports the measure. “It ... sets up more clarity and process so that slum clearance is truly warranted, rather than an effort masquerading as an attempt to “upgrade” private property from one private hand to another ... “

The Arizona Cattlemen's Association is also in support of Prop 207. They “stated that the protection of property rights is fundamental to the preservation of civil liberties and that if people use their property wisely and beneficially, they must be able to trust that the government and judicial system will protect their rights,” according to the Secretary of State's Web site.

The Arizona League of Conservation Voters urges Arizonans to vote no on 207. “Despite its noble-sounding title, the initiative would jeopardize Arizona's natural environment by depriving state and local governments the ability to pass reasonable land use and conservation requirements ... The initiative would subject communities to potential litigation every time they enacted new land use regulations ... Any time property owners claimed a new conservation regulation impacted, even slightly, the maximum value of their property, they could sue.”

John Keegan, Mayor of Peoria and co-chair of Luke West Valley Council, says “This proposition would halt local governments' efforts to protect military bases in Arizona. It would strangle the largest employer in Arizona, the Department of Defense ... The fuzzy language of this proposition will make it very difficult or impossible to build necessary facilities such as water and wastewater plants; protect historic districts; regulate how close bars are to schools; improve neighborhood standards; or promote economic development. If this is passed by a vote of the people, it can never be changed by the legislature.”

More information on Proposition 207 is available on the Arizona Secretary of State's Web site: www.azsos.gov.

Mojave Valley News, Laughlin NV: http://www.mohavedailynews.com