What Stealth?


by Timothy Sandefur

Ray Ring of the High Country News claims that property rights advocates are engaged in a "stealth campaign" to "lay[] waste to land-use regulations used by state and local governments to protect the landscape, the environment and neighborhoods."

This is simply a lie, and in two senses. First, the requirement for just compensation for land use regulations in Oregon, and those proposed in other states such as California, would not "lay waste" to anything; they would at most require government to compensate property owners for taking away the value of their land. And these laws and bills have exceptions in them that allow the government not to compensate property owners for laws against pollution or nuisances. The bureaucrats and their journalist friends who claim otherwise are trying to scare the public by lying to them.

Second, there is no "stealth" campaign with regard to regulatory takings. Proponents of Measure 37 in Oregon, or Proposition 90 in California, are quite open and honest about the fact that they believe that when government takes away the value of people's property through land-use regulations, it owes them just compensation just as if it took their land openly through eminent domain. The only exception is when government is protecting the public—by forbidding pollution, for example—in which case, no compensation is required. Nobody is trying to disguise these things. Mr. Ring should be ashamed of misleading his readers for political gain.

Update: As for who really is engaged in stealth, here is a list of the groups funding the opposition to Prop. 90.