Friday, March 06, 2009

Big court win for property owners; loss for Ron Sims

Ron Sims and King County grabbed two-thirds of the land of every rural land owner. But he lost in the Washington Supreme Court - unanimously. Great news!!

Seattle Times
Rural property owners who fought a King County law severely restricting how much land they can clear have won a huge victory.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review an appeals-court decision that struck down the law as an improper tax or fee on development. Chief Justice Gerry Alexander signed an order in which he and four other justices unanimously denied the county's petition for review of the Court of Appeals ruling.

The clearing restrictions, part of a package that includes the Critical Areas Ordinance, require rural property owners to keep native vegetation on 50 to 65 percent of their land, depending on its size. They were adopted as a way of protecting streams and wildlife, including the threatened chinook salmon.

Steve Hammond, president of the Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights, said the order "puts the nail in the coffin" of the most controversial element in the critical-areas package.

"I've been saying since 2004, when I was on the [County] Council, this is not the right thing to do," Hammond said of the clearing law. "This is the homeowner having to make a donation to the open-space program. Two-thirds of your property is a pretty significant donation. That's bad.

"The only way I know how to get folks who don't live in the affected area to understand it is to say, 'What if I walked into your bathroom and said you have three fixtures: You can keep one and the other two have to go?


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