Deception Underlies State Eminent Domain Initiative


by Timothy Sandefur

Randy Shaw argues in BeyondChron that the Protect Our Homes Initiative is deceptive because it would "jeapordiz[e] the future enatment of most land use laws." This, however, is not true. The Initiative would require government to compensate property owners when its land-use laws deprived owners of a substantial part of the value of the land, and where those laws failed to protect public health and safety. But laws against pollution, and laws against dangerous uses of land, or or nuisances, would not be affected at all by the initiative.

Often, we hear government officials argue that they should not be required to compensate people when land-use laws take away the value of their property, because, simply, the government can't afford to. Shaw maks the same argument, writing that he "believe[s] that the damages claims [sic] could be so large that government agencies would be unwilling to enact, implement or continue to implement these policies."

Of course, the simple answer is that if government can't afford to compensate people for enacting laws that cause them substantial losses, and which don't protect public health and safety, it shouldn't take their property away.