Property Owners Learn How To Defend Rights At Tukwila Event
[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.]
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.
â€œWe can take America back,â€ keynote speaker Fred Kelly Grant, president of the American Stewards of Liberty, told Alliance members at the March 20 annual banquet of the Citizensâ€™ 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, stateâ€™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.
Their focus ranged from impacts to homeowners of proposed revisions to shoreline management regulations to the legal challenge that overturned King Countyâ€™s 65 percent taking of private property in its critical areas ordinance.
One interested participant was from Bellevue-based Washington Sensible Shorelines Association (sensibleshorelines.org), which organized to watchdog that cityâ€™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 Citizensâ€™ Alliance for Property Rights, is credited with helping reverse the controversy in favor of the Cassansâ€™ property rights.
In his remarks, Grant told participants they can use a â€œcoordination processâ€ to protect their rights against encroachment by the federal government.
â€œFederal statues require federal agencies to coordinate with local governments in the application of environmental regulations if local governments want it,â€ Grant said. â€œCoordination means that local government has an equal, not a subordinate, position with federal agencies.â€
Local agencies that can participate include the state, cities and counties, small towns, and special districts such as water and sewer â€“ and even cemeteries, he noted.
â€œCongress requires agencies to make every attempt in good faith to work with local economic policy,â€ Grant continued. â€œThatâ€™s the hook on this thing. They cannot just talk. They have got to work with [local agencies] to try to reach consistency.â€
Property rights groups need to press for coordination beginning with â€œthe lowest level of government that isnâ€™t corrupted â€¦ [by] the use of bad science, which is the worst kind of corruption in my mind.â€
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.
â€œIf your groups can get local government to take part in the coordination process,â€ he added, â€œyou will be successful. But local officials wonâ€™t do it without pressure from you.â€ If this process â€œspreads to enough local governments, we can take America back.
â€œAnd,â€ Grant added, â€œbelieve me, in my experience thatâ€™s the only thing that works.â€
Property rights today â€œare under heavy assault by various departments of the government from federal agencies to the counties â€¦ and environmental nuts,â€ 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 stateâ€™s Department of Natural Resources to be appointed not by the governor but by an unelected board â€“ thereby removing the director from direct accountability to state residents.
He called the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights â€œa godsendâ€ for countering these trends. The organization â€œlooks 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.â€
Forschler told The B-Town Blog, â€œProperty rights have been under assault for many years by folks who donâ€™t appreciate the success that private property ownership has historically played in both protecting the environment and enhancing economic development.
â€œSome think itâ€™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.
â€œCAPR â€“ myself included â€“ believe that protecting property rights is also the most effective way to protect the environment.â€
The role of the Citizens Alliance, he added, â€œis 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.â€