Property Owners Learn How To Defend Rights At Tukwila Event

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Burien Planning Commission is meeting tonight (Tues., March 30) at 7pm at City Hall for a “workshop” on the Shoreline Master Program; please note that there will be no public comments allowed at this meeting.]

by Ralph Nichols

On the same day that more than 30,000 people demonstrated in the “other” Washington against pending health-care reform, more than 300 people gathered in our Washington to consider ways to counter threats to private property rights.

“We can take America back,” keynote speaker Fred Kelly Grant, president of the American Stewards of Liberty, told Alliance members at the March 20 annual banquet of the Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) at the Double Tree Suites in Tukwila.

Grant is also author of the recently published Justice My Ass, a personal remembrance of his years as a federal prosecutor, state’s attorney and defense lawyer in Baltimore, and later as a criminal law consultant in Idaho, before he became involved with property rights.

Most of those attending the banquet and Alliance-sponsored workshops were from the Puget Sound region, but others came from around Washington state, several from California, where CAPR has two chapters, and one person traveled from Wisconsin.

Fred Kelly Grant

Their focus ranged from impacts to homeowners of proposed revisions to shoreline management regulations to the legal challenge that overturned King County’s 65 percent taking of private property in its critical areas ordinance.

One interested participant was from Bellevue-based Washington Sensible Shorelines Association (, which organized to watchdog that city’s updating of its shoreline management plan but now includes residents of other cities concerned about their own local shoreline planning processes.

Receiving special acknowledgement at the banquet were James and Doris Cassan, whose defense of the right to develop their private property resulted in the City of SeaTac rescinding in January a prior condemnation of their Park-and-Fly lot on International Boulevard.

New SeaTac City Councilman Rick Forschler, who is also King County Chapter President of the Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights, is credited with helping reverse the controversy in favor of the Cassans’ property rights.

In his remarks, Grant told participants they can use a “coordination process” to protect their rights against encroachment by the federal government.

“Federal statues require federal agencies to coordinate with local governments in the application of environmental regulations if local governments want it,” Grant said. “Coordination means that local government has an equal, not a subordinate, position with federal agencies.”

Local agencies that can participate include the state, cities and counties, small towns, and special districts such as water and sewer – and even cemeteries, he noted.

“Congress requires agencies to make every attempt in good faith to work with local economic policy,” Grant continued. “That’s the hook on this thing. They cannot just talk. They have got to work with [local agencies] to try to reach consistency.”

Property rights groups need to press for coordination beginning with “the lowest level of government that isn’t corrupted … [by] the use of bad science, which is the worst kind of corruption in my mind.”

Grant stressed the importance of requiring lawmakers and regulators to produce the laws that regulations targeting property rights are based on, and for them then to produce the science on which the laws are based.

“If your groups can get local government to take part in the coordination process,” he added, “you will be successful. But local officials won’t do it without pressure from you.” If this process “spreads to enough local governments, we can take America back.

“And,” Grant added, “believe me, in my experience that’s the only thing that works.”

Property rights today “are under heavy assault by various departments of the government from federal agencies to the counties … and environmental nuts,” said Al Anding, of Anding Realty Inc. in Madison.

The same threats to private property along shorelines that concern Puget Sound residents are being promoted in Wisconsin, Anding noted.

Some environmentalists now want the director of that state’s Department of Natural Resources to be appointed not by the governor but by an unelected board – thereby removing the director from direct accountability to state residents.

He called the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights “a godsend” for countering these trends. The organization “looks at the science [that regulations are based on] and makes sure the agencies are using actual science and not junk science. Actual science is on the side of common sense.”

Forschler told The B-Town Blog, “Property rights have been under assault for many years by folks who don’t appreciate the success that private property ownership has historically played in both protecting the environment and enhancing economic development.

“Some think it’s a battle between property rights and the environment, but that’s incorrect. It is more often a difference of opinion between the most effective way to protect the environment. Some people use a regulatory approach to protect the environment, but this has a very poor track record for success.

“CAPR – myself included – believe that protecting property rights is also the most effective way to protect the environment.”

The role of the Citizens Alliance, he added, “is to be a resource to individuals and organizations working to promote property rights as a solution to problems including the environment, governmental overreach, and community development.”

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4 Responses to “Property Owners Learn How To Defend Rights At Tukwila Event”
  1. Coverofnight says:

    Great article with good information. But no public comment at tonight’s “workshop”? Does anyone know if there will be an opportunity to put pressure on our local officials – the strategy noted in this article? Or do we sit helpless and have to wait for the next election cycle, like we do at the Federal level?

  2. Chris says:

    I’m fairly certain you can “ask questions” at these workshops, as this has been the case in other worhshop type meetings. However, if there are going to be droves of people at this meeting, I could see the council limiting (or not taking at all) questions from the audience.

  3. Ralph Nichols says:

    The questions to ask are:

    What is the specific language in the WAC (Washington Administrative Code) that permits or requires setbacks by the city of more than 20 feet? And other shoreline regulations of concern to property owners?

    What is the specific language in state law (Shorelines Management Act within the RCW) that requires or authorizes the WAC regulations?

    What is the science on which these regulations are based? Was the science peer-reviewed through a legitimate review process?

    And what scientific studies show an actual threat to Puget Sound from only a 20-foot setback? And what scientifically proven damage to the Sound has been caused by these waterfront properties?

    Unless unequivocal scientific evidence exists, then any regulations based on them are regulations built on sand (pun intended).

    While it is good for as many members of the public as possible to ask these questions and insist on specific answers, not obfuscations, it is imperative that attorneys representing shoreline property owners make official requests for these answers.

    And don’t hesitate to contact the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights or the Washington Sensibile Shorelines Alliance ( for information and assistance.


  4. Betsy says:

    Amen! good info– thank you for this!

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