Arizona property owners need protection
By Nick Dranias
Special to the Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 08.10.2009
Tucson developer Mike Goodman did everything right. But that didn't stop Tucson bureaucrats from pulling the rug out from underneath him and his construction project.
He bought land from the city, fully disclosed his plans to develop student housing to city officials, secured building permits and began building student housing in accordance with his approved permits and plans.
So far so good...
But when community groups objected to mini-dorms being built within walking distance to the University of Arizona because they said it would negatively impact the neighborhood, Tucson's zoning administrator revoked his building permits.
City officials then tried to force Goodman through a newly invented and more complicated project approval process, all the while refusing to allow him to protect his unfinished construction.
And boom goes the dynamite. Could almost be an opinion piece about attempts for development by landowners right here in Kingman over the last few years. I'm not saying that everything here in Kingman went down in the exact same fashion, but the fundamentals are certainly there.
A developer with less courage probably would have considered the odds too heavily stacked against him and just given up. Instead, Goodman chose to fight. He ultimately received a court ruling that found "no valid legal basis for the Zoning Administrator's revocation of Goodman's permits."
I'm pleased for Mr. Goodman but as you will see...
But the damage had been done. Goodman's existing construction—foundation, framing, mechanical and electrical systems—had been exposed to the elements for nearly two years. Vandals had left their scars on the project, too. Extensive repairs had to be made. Goodman incurred attorneys' fees in excess of $100,000 and lost more than $500,000 in rental income.
It is this sort of stuff that has captured my interest. It certainly isn't an effort to defeat people of advanced years. Like I've said before, property rights do not discriminate against anyone... race, creed, or age.
Just a bit more from this opinion piece...
One of those rights is the right to use and enjoy your property without micromanagement from city officials. No one denies that regulations protecting public health and safety are important, but when regulations are put in place simply to indulge the whims of special interests it violates private property rights.
Local governments must be restrained from creating rules and regulations aimed at keeping people like Mike Goodman from using their property in ways they have a legal right to do.
Right now in Mohave County we have our special interest groups lobbying the local governments to limit private property rights (the NIMBY's and the water worry warts).
The author of the opinion piece is the director of constitutional studies at the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, a conservative advocacy organization. You will find a link on this web page from the Goldwater Institute that takes you to a long report in PDF form titled A New Charter for American Cities: 10 Rights to Restrain Government and Protect Freedom. It is a heck of a read, if you have the time. Below is a bit that is found on page 29 of that report.
Replace Zoning with Privately Enforced Restrictive Covenants
The unvarnished truth is that just about any zoning law functions as a vehicle for politics to dominate property rights. This is because the primary criteria for zoning decisions typically boil down to: “How many people favor and how many oppose? Who supports the zoning of the site and who objects to it?” As a result,“when the final vote comes, most if not all legislators will vote for reasons that have no relationship to maximizing production, satisfying consumer demand, maintaining property rights and values or planning soundly.” Not surprisingly, studies of Philadelphia, Lexington, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles have shown “control of property through zoning is more chaotic than it is orderly.”
It tends to get chaotic when one group demands the rights to another persons property for nothing in regards to a fair exchange. It has been happening right here in Kingman and the damage has been done. Hopefully the damage can be 'undone', but it won't be unless more voices start demanded more respect for property rights we are entitled to by law.