Author: Daniel Himebaugh
The Supreme Court of Washington will soon decide whether to hear Olson v. Pierce County, a case challenging Pierce County, Washington's decision to bar property owner Russell Olson from building a single-family home. PLF filed a brief supporting review, in which we argue that the county's decision is a violation of Olson's due process rights.
Olson's story is a prime example of government regulation gone awry. In 2003, Pierce County sold a vacant, single-family lot to Olson in a tax foreclosure sale. Naturally, Olson wanted to build a home on his newly acquired lot. He applied for the necessary permits, as the county instructed, but the county refused to process his applications after deciding to treat his residentially zoned property as a "greenbelt." The county's decision precludes Olson from doing anything productive with his land, including building a home. Worse, the county claims that its rules prevent it from ever converting Olson's property back into a buildable lot. The result of the county's decision is that Olson is left with nothing but an empty, unusable residential lot, and the privilege of paying property taxes.
We expect the court's decision on the petition for review in a few weeks. Be sure to check in for updates.