Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-6-2008

Abstract

This report by the Georgetown Environmental Law & Policy Institute, entitled "The Track Record on Takings Legislation: Lessons from Democracy's Laboratories," examines the experiences of Florida, Oregon, and several other states with legislation implementing the property rights agenda. The report is the first comprehensive effort to systematically identify and evaluate the on-the-ground consequences of so-called takings "compensation" laws. The major findings of the report are that the takings agenda has undermined community protections by forcing a roll back of existing legal rules and/or by exerting a chilling effect on new legislative activity, special interests such as developers and timber companies have been the primary beneficiaries of takings legislation, the takings laws have fomented and exacerbated neighbor-neighbor conflicts over land use issues, the takings agenda has conferred large windfalls on certain owners either in the form of taxpayer-funded awards or special exemptions from the rules that apply to the rest of the community, and the property rights agenda has undermined the democratic process. Contrary to a common argument made by proponents of this type of legislation, requiring the government to pay to regulate does not lead government officials to make a more nuanced appraisal of the costs and benefits of regulations, apparently because the salience of fiscal costs to government officials far outweighs the relatively more diffuse political benefits of community and homeowner protection.