Greater Greater Washington

Politics


Endorsements for Virginia local races and ballot questions

The major attention in Virginia this election cycle has focused on federal races, with high-stakes ad wars for both the Presidential and US Senate races. However, Virginia voters also have the opportunity to make some very important choices on local matters this November.


Photo by Frank Gruber on Flickr.

We suggest that voters reject statewide question 1 on eminent domain. We hope Alexandria residents will re-elect Mayor Bill Euille. In Arlington, we recommend that residents support all 4 bond measures and, despite some reservations, re-elect Libby Garvey to the County Board.

Question 1 (eminent domain): We recommend voting AGAINST Question 1.

This proposed amendment to Virginia's state constitution would enact new rules on local governments' eminent domain authority. Specifically, the amendment prohibits governments from using eminent domain for economic development, and broadly redefines takings law to require government compensation for any action that reduces access to private property.

The latter issue is particularly troublesome. As several editorials have noted, the amendment is worded so broadly that it might require local governments to give significant financial compensation to property owners for any number of mundane and necessary actions. For example, if a city in Virginia adds a median to a road in front of a business, even without actually taking any of the owners' property, they could have to to pay every property owner because the access is in some way reduced.

Residents had some concerns about the breadth of eminent domain after the Supreme Court's Kelo decision, but the Virginia legislature already addressed these issues with a 2007 law. The overly broad language in this amendment would put a stranglehold on local government in Virginia. Routine projects could become prohibitively expensive, and get mired in court for years at a time. We urge you to vote against the amendment.

Alexandria Mayor: We recommend voting for Bill Euille.

Alexandria voters face a stark choice, between one candidate who is strongly pro-smart growth, and another who would force growth out of Alexandria farther from the regional core.

Mr. Euille, the 3-term incumbent, has shepherded extensive community planning efforts for redevelopment in Potomac Yard, the Beauregard Corridor, and Alexandria Waterfront. He has also pursued a transit-friendly transportation agenda pushing BRT corridors and an infill Metro station, with a possible streetcar connection to Arlington.

The challenger, Andrew Macdonald, is a classic anti-growth candidate who proposes to rein back the density of redevelopment projects. He offers no explanation for how the city or region should accommodate growth, except to say "not here."

Arlington County Board: We recommend voting for Libby Garvey.

None of the three candidates for Arlington County Board have engendered our confidence, but the incumbent, Ms. Garvey, shows the most promise.

Transportation planning has been the dominant theme during this election. Unfortunately, Ms. Garvey and her challengers Matthew Wavro and Audrey Clement have all displayed little understanding of the subject. All oppose the Columbia Pike streetcar. Mr. Wavro is concerned that it will increase automobile congestion, Ms. Clement says money would be better spent on schools and libraries, and Ms. Garvey says BRT does the same thing at lower cost.

But transportation models do not suggest the streetcar will increase congestion, the streetcar's funding sources cannot be spent on schools and libraries because they're fully dedicated to transportation regardless of mode, and buses are profoundly different from streetcar service for many reasons.

Given their positions thus far, we do not offer a full endorsement to any of the candidates. However, we believe that Libby Garvey has the most open mind and is the least likely to damage Arlington's decades-long commitment to smart growth. We are hopeful that she will win reelection, and with more experience become as strong an advocate for progressive urbanism and transportation as Arlington's other County Board members.

Arlington County bond referenda: We recommend voting for FOR all 4.

Arlington is requesting authority to issue bonds for 4 purposes: Metro and transportation, parks and recreation, community infrastructure, and public schools. All 4 are worthy priorities for County funding.

The Metro and transportation bonds are of particular importance. They will fund continuing maintenance upgrades to Metrorail, Arlington's bicycle and pedestrian initiatives, and provide matching funds that are necessary to obtain some federal and state grants.

These are the official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington, written by one or more contributors. Active contributors and editors discussed endorsements, and any endorsement reflects a strong consensus in favor of endorsing for or against each issue or candidate.

Comments

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Thanks for covering this. I had been leaning on yes for question 1 but this means that I'll have to think about it a little more. All I had really considered was the text of the question rather than thinking a little deeper about what that broadly means.

I too plan on voting for Ms. Garvey and then immediately writing her to show at least one voter who is hinging this on transportation.

Plus Arlington just increased the libraries budget and while I agree with a lot of the Green party's national issues I think they're the exact opposite of me on most local issues, especially as they relate to Columbia Pike both in development and the streetcar.

by drumz on Oct 25, 2012 2:34 pm • linkreport

What about Fairfax County and our bond issues?

by Thad on Oct 25, 2012 2:57 pm • linkreport

We don't have any contributors who were able to write something up on those. We could definitely use more NoVa contributors — volunteers welcome. Meanwhile, please feel free to post a comment with your suggestions about those bond issues.

by David Alpert on Oct 25, 2012 3:03 pm • linkreport

Given the lack of any decent candidate, I'll be writing in "Pro Streetcar" for County Board and encourage others to do the same. Libby Garvey is a politician's politician. She is anti-streetcar because she finds it politically advantageous.

She's in the County Board seat that will always coincide with the presidential election; she's not going to lose in a general election, EVER. Hopefully somebody credible will challenge her in the primary next time she's up.

by Antigarvity Beam on Oct 25, 2012 3:09 pm • linkreport

@Thad Regarding the Fairfax Stormwater ($30 million) bond issue, if I understand the issue correctly, there are only ~200 homes that benefit from the levee and pumping station. Does it make sense to pay $150k per house? Are there plans for any further homes in Huntington? I am new to voting on these bond issues so maybe it does make sense, but I feel like the articles/brochures I have read so far on the topic do not address this question.

by Ben on Oct 25, 2012 3:16 pm • linkreport

Your objection to the eminent domain issue might be bolstered by some examples of previous routine projects that would have become too expensive under this language. Realizing of course "expensive" is a relative term when you seek to vacate a citizen's property rights.

Frankly, reading the entire text of the amendment, it simply better defines a short clause that was already the crux of extensive litigation in ED cases.

by EPrince on Oct 25, 2012 3:20 pm • linkreport

I appreciate the clarification on the emminent domain issue. I too, would like to hear more about the Fairfax Bond issues. Hopefully other commenters will add an information they have.

by SB on Oct 25, 2012 4:26 pm • linkreport

"For example, if a city in Virginia adds a median to a road in front of a business, even without actually taking any of the owners' property, they could have to to pay every property owner because the access is in some way reduced."

That statement is incorrect. The text of the amendment clearly is talking about eminent domain, not public works. It redefines "just compensation" which you get if there is a taking, but it does not broaden the definition of a taking.

Here is the text:

That the General Assembly shall pass no law whereby private property, the right to which is fundamental, shall be damaged or taken except for public use. No private property shall be damaged or taken for public use without just compensation to the owner thereof. No more private property may be taken than necessary to achieve the stated public use. Just compensation shall be no less than the value of the property taken, lost profits and lost access, and damages to the residue caused by the taking. The terms "lost profits" and "lost access" are to be defined by the General Assembly. A public service company, public service corporation, or railroad exercises the power of eminent domain for public use when such exercise is for the authorized provision of utility, common carrier, or railroad services. In all other cases, a taking or damaging of private property is not for public use if the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development, except for the elimination of a public nuisance existing on the property. The condemnor bears the burden of proving that the use is public, without a presumption that it is.

by Jim Titus on Oct 25, 2012 9:42 pm • linkreport

it's not incorrect. the virginia municipal league, virginia association of counties, and many jurisdictional governments around the state have adopted legislative packages opposing it for this very reason.

"loss of access" counts as a taking if this passes, no matter whether it happens as part of a formal eminent domain action or a simple utility project.

by Ballston Guy on Oct 25, 2012 11:49 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Hank on Oct 26, 2012 1:29 am • linkreport

As an Arlington voter, I'll be voting for all the bond measures *except* the park bond. That one seems like over-reach by a County Board that's getting a little too grandiose.

by Paul on Oct 26, 2012 10:09 am • linkreport

It sounds to me that local jurisdictions have embarked on a FUD campaign (now supported by GGW) because they don't want to have any limitations on eminent domain. No one has demonstrated how this amendment would lead to "require local governments to give significant financial compensation to property owners for any number of mundane and necessary actions." The amendment clearly refers to "private property" and a median, for example, is not private property.

I call BS.

BTW, your captcha thing is still buggy. Largo Town Center is east of Morgan Boulevard on the Blue Line.

by movement on Oct 26, 2012 10:20 am • linkreport

On ED

The statute already limits eminent domain. I don't see the need for a const amendment. And if it ONLY clarifies where ED is to be done, why redefine just compensation? Thats already in the Fed Constitution. And why add anything beyond the value of the property? Also the rhetoric from the YES side has been all this "property rights are in danger" BS, which is completely at variance with the reality in the US, and a fortiori in Virginia. I will vote no.

Re flood control - they could have gotten a private developer to pay for that - by allowing the redevelopment of those houses into high density mixed use. Now usually I wouldnt push for conversion of a SFH nabe into a WUP, even right near a metro station, but to have to spend significant amounts of public $$ on flood control to save "the suburban character" of an area near a metro, is going too far, IMO. I will vote no on that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

"That statement is incorrect. The text of the amendment clearly is talking about eminent domain, not public works. "

what if FFX county wants to add a sidewalk where there is none, and has to take a small part of a commercial property? So instead of the fair value of the property, they have to add $$ for "lost profits and lost access" without any offset for increased value from a complete street, an improved neighborhood, etc? This can only make complete streets projects more difficult, to the benefit of businesses that don't cooperate with making places more walkable, and that want to milk such projects for every dime they can.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

Re: The ED amendment

This is a proposal to amend the VA constitution A general principle should be to avoid changing the constitution unless absolutely necessary.

by Falls Church on Oct 26, 2012 11:44 am • linkreport

@AWITC
First of all in most places the city/county owns the land around the roads and can build sidewalks (or not) as it sees fit. Second if there is no decreased value due to lost profits and lost access then I don't know what the issue is. The idea is to compensate landowners fairly for private property being seized. IMHO that is the way it should be. When Fairfax County decides to build a road right through an existing business, forcing the business to shut down, they ought to be compensated not just for the value of the property but for the loss of livelihood caused by the seizure. I fully support Fairfax's right to do this, but they need to pay the price.

by movement on Oct 26, 2012 11:44 am • linkreport

"First of all in most places the city/county owns the land around the roads and can build sidewalks (or not) as it sees fit."

In rural areas where VDOT can buy ROW in advance. Not in older commercial centers, which in many parts of FFX have sections without sidewalks, or with inadequate sidewalks.

"Second if there is no decreased value due to lost profits and lost access then I don't know what the issue is. "

Because there could be, say, lost profits to the business, while the value of the property increases.

Take small drive through business on one acre in a commercial corridor. Land valued at say 100k. The county takes a strip for complete streets valued at 5k. The value of the land is now down to 95k. The business which now has a sidewalk crossing its driveway, losses drive in business - lets say thats capitalized at 2k. BUT the complete streets initiative makes it possible to sell the land to a developer at 150k.

Current law, the business owner gets compensated 5k. Which is unfair, cause the sidewalk has benefited them, but what can ya do? Under the new law, the business will get 7k, which is even more unfair, and costlier to the county.

The constitution says you get the fair value of your property PERIOD.

Will you be net harmed to your business on the remaining property sometimes? Yeah. Will you be net benefitied sometimes? Yeah. LOTS of things govt can do will net harm or net benefit your business. Thats life, and that can be part of cost benefit analysis - but its NOT in the Fed constitution, and its not your right. All that is your right is the value of the property seized. Period. This amendment would be a net shift of wealth from ALL of us in the Commonwealth, most especially from those of us with an interest in improvements like complete streets, to a set of business owners already benefiting from rising property values.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 12:07 pm • linkreport

"That the General Assembly shall pass no law whereby private property, the right to which is fundamental, shall be damaged or taken except for public use. "

why the aside about the right being fundamental? Which rights in the commonwealth constitution are NOT fundamental? what does it mean to call out a particular right as a fundamental one? Maybe this is just red meat for the tea party. Or maybe it could impact what courts decide on issues unrelated to this. I don't know. In either case I think its a mistake to put this in the Va constitution.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 12:14 pm • linkreport

@AWITC
Your example is bogus. A sidewalk crossing a driveway doesn't affect drive-in business at all. There is no case here. Also, the landowner whose property value has increased will pay higher property taxes which will over time exceed the cost of buying the strip in the first place.

As to "fundamental", that just reads to me as legalese. And just because something isn't in the Constitution doesn't mean it can't be in a state constitution. That is the whole point of state constitutions. The point of the referendum is to determine establish whether existing law goes far enough or whether stronger defense of property rights is needed. It is a perfectly fair thing to vote on. You can disagree but I'd love to see a rational reason why.

by movement on Oct 26, 2012 12:48 pm • linkreport

I don't know that someeone wouldn't calim that a sidewalk affects their business. And I dont know how the courts would judge such a claim. As for the property tax going up, by the same token if the value of his property decreases, it would go down. If thats not sufficient offset when the property goes down, I don't think it is when it goes up.

As for fundamental, I want to know what kind of legalese it is. What does it DO?

As for whats in the federal constitution, that clause has worked well for over two hundred years (and the question of what is just compensation is not impacted by Kelo). So I see no reason to insert additional protections in the Va constitution.

I did not say its not fair to vote on it. Of course it is. And I intend to vote no, and I have said why. I have yet to see a compelling argument for a yes vote.

There is nothing broken on this issues in Va that needs fixing. And the fix adds new language to the constitution - we dont know how courts will interpret it.

We do know that one of the advocates of the new language is our esteemed attorney general, who has come up with some interpretations of the law and of con law that strike many of us as quite odd. Why would I want to give him, or lawyers like him, an additional tool?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 12:58 pm • linkreport

The reason for approving the amendment is to prevent the state from using eminent domain to seize private property and put people out of business, as is happening in Alexandria.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/regardless-of-road-project-fairfax-county-stables-will-shut-down/2012/08/31/a69cc136-f3a7-11e1-892d-bc92fee603a7_story.html

This is a real example. It is happening. The landowners are screwed and have no recourse under existing law. At least under the amendment they would be justly compensated for their loss.

You and the other naysayers have failed to provide a legitimate example of how the amendment would do more harm than good. I will continue to scoff until you do.

by movement on Oct 26, 2012 1:54 pm • linkreport

Er that link is to a story about a stables being put out of business because its LANDLORD - Ie the property OWNER - decided not to renew the lease.

The property owner will only lose their property IF a road is built. A road - one of the uses ALLOWED under the proposed amendment. That would not change.

And they will be compensated for the fair value of their property.

If "it" (taking for economic development? inadequate compensation?) is real and happening now what you have linked to is not an example of it. Its also in Fairfax, not Alexandria, which makes me wonder if that is what you intended to link to.

and you may scoff all you want - this is a change in the state constitution - I think the burden of proof is on those asking for the change.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 2:14 pm • linkreport

heres a list of opponents BESIDE the local govts

"Others have raised concerns about the wording and the harm that may befall the Commonwealth’s economic development efforts if a necessary access road or utility easement for a major potential user cannot be promised in a timely fashion (or at all). These concerns are not just from governments, they come from businesses as well. For example, the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership — comprised of the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers of commerce — announced the formation of a broad coalition of business organizations across Virginia to oppose the proposed constitutional amendment regarding eminent domain. In a press release, Tony Howard, President and CEO of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, stated that “all Virginians agree that private property rights are fundamental; however, the proposed constitutional amendment suffers from serious flaws that have the potential to stop critical infrastructure in its tracks and to jeopardize Virginia’s economic recovery. …. In the current economic climate, Virginia can ill afford to diminish its competitiveness with other states and reduce its ability to attract the investments that will create much needed jobs for Virginians.” You can read more on Chamber of Commerce efforts to oppose the proposed amendment here.

As noted, a large number of business-related organizations oppose the wording of the proposed amendment, and sent a letter to the members of the General Assembly on January 18, 2012, opposing passage. These organizations included American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia (ASEC-VA), Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, CenturyLink, Community Planning Partners, Greater Richmond Association for Commercial Real Estate, Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate, Home Builders Association of Virginia, NAIOP Northern Virginia, Northern Virginia Building Industry Association (NVBIA), Northern Virginia Chambler Partnership, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, Old Dominion Highway Contractors Association, Portsmouth Partnership, Prince William Chamber of Commerce, The Virginia Society – American Institute of Architects (VSAIA), Virginia Association for Commercial Real Estate, Virginia Association of Realtors, Virginia Beach Vision, Virginia Society of Professional Engineers (VPSE), Virginia Telephone Industry Association (VTIA) and Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance."

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 2:19 pm • linkreport

@AWITC
The situation I linked is in the hamlet of Alexandria which is in Fairfax County. (I never said this was the City of Alexandria and find it surprising that a regular GGW reader wouldn't know the difference.)

The business owner cannot relocate - there is no suitable land anywhere in the area to host a stable and so forth. The value of the land is insignificant compared to the loss of the business. This is exactly the type of loss that the amendment is designed to mitigate.

Your laundry list of special interests that oppose the amendment is immaterial. Of course the Chamber of Commerce is going to come out against private property rights. They are a pro-growth organization and would happily steamroll anyone in their path. Most of the other organizations in the list have a similar view. They fail to say how the amendment would "stop critical infrastructure in its tracks and to jeopardize Virginia’s economic recovery". It is all FUD.

by movement on Oct 26, 2012 4:01 pm • linkreport

Ive never heard of a "hamlet" of alexandria. There is a part of FFX county that has an alexandria mailing address, but in the context of a discussion of local govts (and at a time when there has been an emiment domain issue in City of Alex) I would expect you to refer to the jurisdiction by name.

The loss of the business is due to a decision by the land owner not eminent domain. As for that kind of loss, its CERTAINLY not the responsibility of tax payers to make whole a business owner for the costs of his finding a suitable property for a specialized business that exceeds the value of the land. That is absurd and unfair to taxpayers.

My list makes clear its not only local govts that oppose this. You say its progrowth people - do you admit that this will retard growth? Does AG Cuccineli admit it? who is supporting it other than tea partiers and right wing ideologues? Can any of them say how the status quo harms anyone? You still have not shown an example of a case in virginia where eminent domain by a local govt was done for illegitimate purposes, or where, being done for legit purposes, the compensation was inadequate.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 4:13 pm • linkreport

@movement

In your example, how would the amendment entitle the stable owner to compensation since they don't own the property? My understanding is they don't have a long term lease either.

I don't believe the stable is highly profitable, so you seem to be talking about intagible values that wouldn't be compensated for anyway.

by jd on Oct 26, 2012 4:25 pm • linkreport

@AWITC
"I've never heard of the hamlet of Alexandria."
Perhaps hamlet is the wrong word (it is what we used in NY) but I think of the place named Alexandria as everything east of Springfield/Annandale and south of Arlington. It is a huge area, much bigger than the city proper.

RE: growth
If you listen to the Chamber of Commerce, all growth is good growth. That is basically the exact opposite of the general point of view of this website. Also eminent domain does not split down party lines.

@jd
Good point, it isn't clear that the amendment would help in this case either because the party being harmed is not the actual landowner, but a tenant.

Looks like I have some more research to do in order to adequately defend my POV.

by movement on Oct 26, 2012 4:56 pm • linkreport

BTW this doesn't change three things
1. Kelo happened and the USSC said it was okay.
2. With the passage of this amendment, Virginians would be sending a clear message that what happened in CT would not be acceptable here.
3. The naysayers have done nothing to back up their own FUD claims.

by movement on Oct 26, 2012 5:12 pm • linkreport

@Awalkerinthecity: I am responding to your question this morning @10:49 AM that quotes my comment from last night.

I think that others have probably explored this, but just I'll add what I know and acknowledge what I do not know.

The erroneous passage in the editorial adopts an erroneous assertion that others have made, implying that the amendment creates a new "takings claim" for impacts due to public works projects, i.e., reduced access to a highway when no physical ivasion of the property took place. You ask about a public works project that also involves a physical invasion. Of course the amendment does not change the requirement to compensate public works projects that also involve a physical invastion of someone's property.

While I am familiar with the federal constitutional law of takings, I have not followed case law in Virginia. Certainly the general approach is to compensate people for the net impact of a project when a phyusical invasion takes place, and to give them nothing if it does not. So if the new Intercounty Connector runs through your backyard and reduces the property value 50%, then you get that 50% if SHA took 1 square foot--but you get nothing if the right of way is one foot away from your property line.

Similarly, the general rule is that benefits are deducted from compensation, with the classic case being the farmer whose land is taken for an interchange and then he sells a small bit of land to an oil company at a huge profit. He may well get nothing.

Some of the comments (perhaps by you) suggest that in Virginia there is a peculiar one-way rule that only compensates people for what they lose rather than the next impact. I have no idea, though I wish that specific assertions could cite a case. The general principals I provided are in Berger's property law casebook. If there is a one-way effect as you or others suggest, that is a mistake. Hopefully if the amendment passes the legislature's access rules will consider both positive and negative effects.

I come to takings law because I have been trying to get people to gradually move away from the coast as sea level rises ("rolling easement"), and also occasionally advocate for trails. It seems clear that "just compensation" undercompensates property owners who are forced to move, for a very simple reason: When an eminent domain action occurs, both the buyer and the seller value the property more than "fair market value", which is defined as the deal that the willing seller would make. Maybe that's because long-time residents of Poletown value their community more than the market of real estate appraisers, maybe its because someone has a business that will be destroyed by moving. Or maybe enough people like trails that a trail does not really hurt property values--except that the people that live there now bought land next to a pristine woodland because they wanted to be next to a pristice woodland.

I have been occasionally pushing for a trail near a refuge and shooting range where the people who own the land clearly value not having a trail. I think that this trail would have been built 10 years ago had the government offerred a truly fair price to the owners. Taxpayers prefer to do things inexpensively, and since the rules allow governments to pay owners less than what the land is worth to them, more people oppose trails than would be the case if governmnts made it worth their while.

My point is thus that there is a fairly wide range of compensation formulas that might be reasonable and just, spanning from "fair market value" at the low end, to the the value that the land has to the owner being force to part with that land. While I agree that paying more compensation will increase the financial challenges of moving ahead with some projects, I think there are also cases where it would reduce political opposition to trails. If the owners are happy with the big was of cash they are getting, they won't organize community opposition.

So all this leaves me ambivalent about that amendment. But let's not perpetuate the canard that landowners will be compensated when a nearby median is improved. They won't.

by Jim Titus on Oct 26, 2012 6:46 pm • linkreport

@Awalkerintehcity. Since part of your concern seems to be that landowners should or should not be compensated for the impact of a project on their remaining property when some portion is taken, a quick check suggests that Virginia follows the ordinary practice of looking at the net change in property value. Here's an old case which appears to still be good law, 177 Va. 401 (1941).

"The Commissioners are instructed that if they believe from their view of said land and from the evidence before them that there is any enhancement in the market value of the landowner's remaining property, a part of which is sought to be taken herein, by reason of the construction or improvement contemplated or made by the Highway Commissioner, then the Commissioners must offset the amount of such enhanced value against the damage, if any, resulting to such remaining property of the landowner by reason of such construction or improvement; provided such enhancement in value shall not be offset against the value of the property taken; and provided further that if such enhancement in value shall exceed the damage, there shall be no recovery against the landowner for such excess. The burden of proof to establish the enhancement, if any, in the market value of the property, is on the State Highway Commissioner."

This instruction was based upon the Acts of 1928, ch. 472, p. 1228, as amended by Acts 1934, ch. 377, p. 758, which provides that in condemnation proceedings instituted by the Highway Commissioner, "the enhancement, if any, in value of the remaining property of the landowner by reason of the construction or improvement contemplated or made by the commissioner, shall be offset against the damage, if any, resulting to such remaining property of such landowner by reason of such construction 406*406 or improvement, provided such enhancement in value shall not be offset against the value of the property taken; and provided, further, that if such enhancement in value shall exceed the damage, there shall be no recovery over against the landowner for such excess."

by Jim Titus on Oct 26, 2012 8:22 pm • linkreport

"My point is thus that there is a fairly wide range of compensation formulas that might be reasonable and just, spanning from "fair market value" at the low end, to the the value that the land has to the owner being force to part with that land. While I agree that paying more compensation will increase the financial challenges of moving ahead with some projects, I think there are also cases where it would reduce political opposition to trails."

I think that political strategy question is one for elected officials to make and should not be written into the constitution. Surely if writing it into the constitution made things easier then orgs with an interest in projects being done would not oppose it.

And while I understand that fair market value may not leave an owner with particular preferences, or particular business interests whole, I do not consider that ipso facto unfair. As I said above, govt policies or lack thereof do leave some people worse off, and we have no provision to compensate for that. I refer to the federal constitution, with the precedent of fair market value, because the approach taken since the time of the founding fathers (AFAIK) seems to me to represent what in our system we consider the rights of property to be. I do not see any need to go beyond fair market value as a matter of constitutional principle, unless we consider fair market value going back to the founders to be ethically too dismissive of the rights of property - I personally think an assertion of the rights of property thats goes beyond Madison is extreme.

And again the pragmatic case you make does not belong in a constitution, which binds elected politicians and taxpayers against their judgement.

I see this as an assertion not of pragmatism but of an extremist version of property rights.

As for how this will interact with the provisions you quote I do not know. Again, with a constitutional change, I see no reason to chance it. And I find it rich that the political bloc that has most utilized FUD to achieve its ends these last four years is now complaining about it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 11:31 pm • linkreport

"The erroneous passage in the editorial adopts an erroneous assertion that others have made, implying that the amendment creates a new "takings claim" for impacts due to public works projects, i.e., reduced access to a highway when no physical ivasion of the property took place. "

I dont know - it says property shall not be "damaged" and then goes on to give compensation for access. How do I know AG Cuccinelli, whose thinks fining someone for going uninsured is an unconstitutional abridgment of liberty, will not determine that a median is damaging - and how do I know how a Va court will hold? And why should we introduce this into the constitution, when anything desirable in it can be done (or has already been done) by statute?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 26, 2012 11:36 pm • linkreport

The proposed Columbia Pike Streetcar is a wasteful rail fetish, plain and simple. While only funds dedicated to transportation improvements would be used to build the streetcar, numerous more effective public transit projects will remain unfunded for many years if the Streetcar is built.

Kudos to Libby Garvey for finally speaking out against this boondoggle. The politically expedient position would be for Garvey to toe the Party Line established by Comrade Zimmerman.

by Allen Muchnick on Oct 27, 2012 1:59 am • linkreport

I dont know - it says property shall not be "damaged" and then goes on to give compensation for access. How do I know AG Cuccinelli, whose thinks fining someone for going uninsured is an unconstitutional abridgment of liberty, will not determine that a median is damaging - and how do I know how a Va court will hold? And why should we introduce this into the constitution, when anything desirable in it can be done (or has already been done) by statute?

Recapping, I say that the provision tweaks "just compensation" while you and others here say that it broadens the definition of what is a taking. I assume that you agree that a taking only referes to government taking something that counts as property.

If you agree that the amendment is talking about property, think that the answer to your question is found in the structure of the amendment. There is a staightforward reading of the amendment--that it is tweaking just compensation.

There is also an extreme, twisted, out of context reading, which is that it is including things that are not property. No one has ever suggested that anyone has a property interest in their expectations as to what somebody else will do with their own property--if such a property interest existed, then anyone could sue anyone else for doing something that they did not expect. The takings clause does not change what it property, it just says that when it is forcibly taken by government, someone needs to be compensated.

Put another way, if you seriously think that this amendment compensates for something other than takings of private prooperty (e.g. frustration of convenience) then I do not see how you escape concluding that drivers, pedstrians, and cyclists also have a claim against the government for changes in access, since they are directly affected.

I am sure that in the end, you can keep me going by saying that I have no proof that an unreasonable lawyers and an uncreasonable court could not take something and twist it the wrong way. All I can suggest is that irrational people do not need this amendment to reach whatever twisted results they might want to reach, should we ever get a court of mad hatters.

I am from Maryland, where we modify the Constitution many times per election cycle, so we do not have the gravity that you suggest is implied by the Constitution. My impression is that Virginia also had made more amendments than the federal government. Basically, if Virginia wants to have protections for property rights that are greater than requires by the federal constitution, I should think that amending the Virginia Constitution is the best way to do it.

States regularly protect certain rights more than the federal government. Until the 20th century, the only way to protect property rights from state and local governments would have been through the state constitution, since the federal constitution only applied to the federal government.

by Jim Titus on Oct 28, 2012 6:42 pm • linkreport

It is unfortunate that the region's premiere online source for Smart Growth and urbanism has failed to air the many reasonable arguments by cyclists, progressives, and public transport advocates against the Pike Streetcar. Attached is a a study - by a former chair of the Arlington Democratic Party - that is a sober, articulate, and wonky description of why the Pike trolley is the wrong choice (this is the data that convinced Ms Garvey to oppose the streetcar). It really deserves it's own post at GGW.

http://arlingtonmercury.org/downloads/948/download/Bus-Rapid-Transit-Rousselot-Report-Oct-2012.pdf

Mr Alpert - the author of the study clearly shares your values. Please read this report with an open mind. For those of us along the Pike that are passionate about better transit and a better community, we'd like to see our side fairly represented on your website. Not because we disagree with you but rather because, big picture, we do agree with you.

by Tom Thomas on Oct 30, 2012 9:42 pm • linkreport

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