Friday, February 24, 2006

Provisions to Arizona HCR2031 & SCR1019 threaten historic property owners

SCR1019 was voted out of Senate Rules on February 22 with a Proper for Consideration Amended (PFCA) recommendation. It was also discussed and voted out of majority and minority caucus. In the Republican caucus, there was much discussion. Sen. John Huppenthal stated his concern with the bill's zoning implications. It was also mentioned that leadership would meet with representatives from local governments. HCR2031 was on the House Rules agenda on February 21, but not heard. At this time, next week’s agenda has not been posted.

Interested citizens are encouraged to learn more about the issue and contact their legislators. Details below:

Background: House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 2031 and Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1019, in their current form, propose a ballot measure that would require governments to compensate property owners for every zoning or land use decision they make. If adopted, this measure would have an inestimable negative financial impact, draining funds from vital public services. It would also freeze current zoning, preventing government from responding to future community concerns. The measure even provides a right to compensation when the zoning authority takes no action, if the owner can show that inaction reduces the value of his or her property.
Examples of actions that could trigger lawsuits and payment from government:
  • Approval or disapproval of historic overlay zoning
  • Enforcement or enactment of neighborhood preservation codes
  • Change from commercial, residential, or industrial use, or changes in density
  • Approval or disapproval of building height limits
  • Approval or disapproval of neighborhood-developed special planning districts
  • Approval or disapproval of restrictions associated with buffers for military installations and airports
  • Approval or disapproval of liquor licenses
  • Regulation of business hours or building design standards
  • Virtually any other land use regulation
While the great majority of historic homeowners recognize that historic preservation overlay zoning improves property values, this legislation opens the door for anyone with the perception that it does not to file a claim for compensation with their local government. Local historic preservation programs would be dramatically impacted, making it difficult to enforce current historic preservation ordinances for the betterment of our communities.

Background: A version of this bill has been around for several years, but has never received support. This year, however, it's being tied with eminent domain reform that would eliminate eminent domain usage in redevelopment areas.

What you can do

  • Review the summary of HCR2031 or full text of HCR2031.
  • Find your legislator and contact him or her that provision 12-1136 (which was added to HCR2031) is bad public policy. Zoning protects property values. If cities or other governments are discouraged from making land use decisions for fear of creating a right of compensation, businesses and neighborhoods will suffer –- and under this measure, that alone will create a right of compensation. HCR2031/SCR1019, as currently crafted, will cost taxpayers millions, encourage speculative land deals and frivolous litigation, and employ legions of lawyers. There is no good reason to do this.
For more information

  • Alan Stephenson, Arizona Planning Association, 602-262-6940
  • Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club Conservation Outreach, 602-253-8633
  • Paul Barnes, Greater Phoenix Neighborhoods Coalition, 602-840-1579
  • Karen Peters, City of Phoenix Intergovernmental Programs, 602-256-4257