The Tahoma Activist

"Changing the Media, One Story at a Time"

This website is your Pierce County source for progressive news and opinion. If you want to be a part of The Tahoma Activist, send all submissions here. We will print anything that makes sense and touches on the important issues of the day.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I-933 a whole lot worse than Don Brunell makes it out to be

Here's the piece the Tacoma Weekly printed a couple weeks ago regarding Initiative 933:

As a blogger and community activist, I've been noticing a lot of big business folks tend to use the same arguments to support the pro-I-933 position, without coming right out and saying they would vote for or against it. Don Brunell is no different.

Don is right in saying that initiatives are not the ideal way to make law. That's because the kinds of regulations this initiative is designed to unravel are very complex compromises between big businesses, small businesses, and residential property owners.

If Initiative 933 passes and becomes law, it will allow any property owner to sue the State if he feels that a law or regulation passed by the citizens infringes on his ability to make money. If that suit wins, the property owner makes money equal to what he claims that he lost due to the environmental and other zoning regulations in the area.

For example: say you and several of your neighbors decide to get a law passed that bans anyone in our area from storing toxic waste, because of our fears that it could leach into our groundwater. If I-933 were to become law, some big corporation that wants to site their toxic waste dump on their property next to yours could claim that their company is losing twenty million dollars a year because of State regulations.

This would force the State to make a devil's bargain: either pay off the corporation or strike down the law that you and your neighbors got passed, specifically to protect your water!

But it's even worse than that. Lots of rich developers and huge corporations have big tracts of land that sit next to State land. On one of these huge lots, an out-of-state corporation could claim under I-933 that they aren't allowed to build housing developments and shopping malls due to the presence of the Spotted Owl or some other protected creature.

The State now gets to make another terrible choice: either allow the corporation to build anyway, despite the effect that development will have on wildlife and the broader ecosystem, or pay the corporation whatever a judge determines they may have lost.

Clearly this initiative, if passed, will have the twin effect of costing taxpayers millions in settlements, and having corporations and rich landowners forcing citizens' to pay for the effects of their development. Essentially, passing this law is less likely to make your property more valuable and more likely to entice big companies to dump poisons and unsightly buildings right next to it, effectively reducing your property's value.

Good government means allowing citizens to work with their elected officials, to determine which laws will best protect the environment and the common value of every citizen's property. Passing I-933 will totally preempt that in favor of Weyerhauser and Wal-Mart, and every other rich developer with no more concern for his neighbors than he has for a field of prairie dogs cowering in front of his bulldozers. If this law passes, you will be expendable, and the beloved property you want so much to make money on won't be worth even half what you paid for it, now that any rich corporation can park an industrial plant next to it and pump out nasty black smoke all day.

The best reason to vote against I-933 is to see who is bankrolling it's campaign, out-of-state developers, huge corporations like Weyerhauser, and rich landowners with nothing to lose.

For those of you that own businesses, passage of this Initiative will be detrimental to your ability to make your business profitable. Small business owners, with fairly small parcels of land, can't hide their buildings away from the edges of their property. Anything their neighbor's businesses do affects them. For example, someone running a daycare certainly isn't going to want to be sited next to a foundry or other noisy business. A company that makes precision machine parts doesn't want to be next to a sawmill, pouring out huge clouds of fine sawdust. And imagine the retail business owner that finds out that the abandoned building next door to them is suddenly going to become a seedy stripclub. I-933 not only makes that possible, it makes it practically inevitable.

When it comes to voting this November, We the People had better pay attention, because if we lose this one, we're gonna be in a world of hurt. Please folks, Vote No on Initiative 933. Do it for yourself, and do it for your children. But most importantly, do it for future generations, who will need clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and communities in which the people, not the corporations, determine our fate.

Vote No on 933!


Categories:
Politics - Local, Local Media


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