Pacific Legal Foundation Releases “State of Property Rights” Report

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Sacramento,CA; April 20, 2005: April 20, 2005: Pacific Legal Foundation, the nation’s leading defender of property rights in the courts, today released its first annual “State of Property Rights” report that finds a growing national movement to reclaim individual property rights while government agencies continue their regulatory assault on those rights.

PLF reports that a number of high-profile property rights cases and voter initiatives in 2004 show that protecting property rights remains a front-burner issue for many Americans, especially in battleground regions where overzealous environmental and “antigrowth” regulation, and property taxation, have come to a head.

Yet, while there have been notable successes in some areas on behalf of Americans’ constitutionally protected property rights, officials at all levels of government around the country continue to impose ever more burdensome limits on the use of private property—without compensating property owners.

“Government too often imposes outlandish limits on the use of private property,” said , Vice President of Pacific Legal Foundation. “Over the last year, we’ve been encouraged to see more and more people taking a stand against property seizures and asserting their constitutional rights. Oregon voters passed a landmark property rights initiative, voters in Hawaii said enough is enough to skyrocketing property taxes that are driving them from their homes, and Connecticut families whose homes were taken by the government to sell cheaply to corporate interests finally got their day before the United States Supreme Court.”

“Unfortunately, government continues to unreasonably restrict people’s land use, often in the name of environmental protection,” Stirling said. “Too often government uses guesswork and bad science to impose needless restrictions on private property, never compensating the owners or doing the real scientific research necessary to determine whether the added regulation will benefit the environment.”

Among the positive highlights for advancing property rights over the last year are:

While these successes helped to begin a roll back of decades of actions hostile to property rights, there were detrimental actions to property rights as well.

“Governments continue to impose unreasonable limits on the ownership and use of private property,” Stirling said. “For example, rural property owners outside of Seattle are victims of a government ordinance denying them the right to use two-thirds of their property—essentially as a no-touch zone.”

Among the negative developments over the last year are:

As a result of these important events in 2004, PLF predicts 2005 will be a landmark year for property rights since a number of high-profile cases stand to be decided.

“In the year ahead, we hope the Supreme Court will return our judiciary to the historic role of protecting individual property rights and use the four cases before it to clearly move in that direction,” said PLF’s Stirling. “We hope that a growing population of property owners will assert their rights whenever government at any level infringes on those rights, whether by eminent domain, confiscatory regulation of land use, imposition of rent control, or the taking of water from farmers.”