Sunday, September 28, 2008

Land Use Accountability Project

Why do organizations like the Washington Association of Realtors (WAR) and the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) form?

What role do local, state and national organizations play in Land Use Decisions across America? (The local WA Realtors and local BIAW are chapters of well funded and much larger state and national organizations).

Why is it important for voters to understand the purpose and influence of a Business PAC?

The Center for Public Integrity recently conducted a study on Land Use Accountablity in America.

The study reveals that, "Sprawl is a national story, threatening America’s famed open spaces, challenging our rural culture and love of nature. Yet, expansion and development, too, are essential to the American character. While neither ideal should dominate, heavily-financed interests often prevail by overwhelming, sometimes corrupting, local public policy. This project examines local experiences and “connects the dots” in order to illustrate today’s national land use story."

A series of legal takings challenges have taught us that, "Generally, courts have held that local governments cannot arbitrarily limit development merely to avoid growth. The landowner has ownership rights over his or her property, or, as the old maxim dictates: Possession is nine-tenths of the law." For more information on the takings initiative movement in western states, see:

Yet, what townships, counties, and others can do “is to draw out the permitting process, throw up environmental roadblocks, and grudgingly — and slowly — comply with the letter of the law,” explains Witold Rybczynski of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, in Last Harvest, his latest book on land development."

"If the developer’s resources and the potential profits are great enough, however, there are myriad ways in which they can influence or corrupt the system of checks and balances that have evolved over time, and sweep aside even legally sound land-use regulations."

Here's the link to the study:

Key Findings:

The infusion of cash by developers is corrupting land use practices in America and sparking federal investigators to examine conflicts of interest by public officials.

America’s rural culture and heritage areas are under assault and suffering political turmoil, especially in exurbia, areas on the outskirts of America’s most populous metropolitan areas .

BIAW and REALTOR websites: Are these organizations political? You bet they are!

BIAW: "The Building Industry Association of Washington exists to unite those in the building industry in Washington state in their fight against a government that has made this industry among the most regulated in the nation."

Political page:

WAR: "REALTORS® don't just sell homes, we sell communities - we sell Quality of Life. We created the Quality of Life Program to educate, provide tools, develop policies, influence legislation and enhance the overall REALTOR® image."

Political page: "REALTOR® Successfully Support Candidates! A whopping 98% of REALTOR®-endorsed candidates were successful in the Primary election and are battling to win the General Election on November 4th. REALTOR®-endorsed Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi received just over 46% of the vote compared to 34% in the 2004 Primary."

A memorandum regarding Property Rights from local Realtor, Jon Sonie, Chair, WAR Property Rights Fairness Task Force:

Other points of view:

PERC-- "The Property and Environment Research Center—is the nation’s oldest and largest institute dedicated to improving environmental quality through markets and property rights. Research is at the heart of PERC’s work followed by outreach and education. Formed more than 25 years ago, PERC applies economic thinking to environmental problems. Located in Bozeman Montana, PERC pioneered the approach known as free market environmentalism." (FME).

Evergreen Freedom Foundation: "Growth Management - a rift between intent and reality."

WA Policy Center:

Conservation Voters: "Washington Conservation Voters is the statewide political voice for the environment. We work to elect environmentally responsible candidates to state and local offices. Working with our allies in the community, we advocate for strong environmental policies and hold our elected officials accountable during the legislative session. Through our political work we are strengthening laws that safeguard the health of our communities, the beauty of our state and our economic future."

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