Vox Populi Comes to the Gubernatorial Debates

Typically, as a gubernatorial or senate race kicks off in the Old Dominion, the launching pad is the Virginia Bar Association which usually holds the initial debate between the campaign candidates at such tony mountain reports as The Homestead or The Greenbrier.
Although the debates have been open to the public, they have always had a an exclusive air, some might say annoyingly exclusive. For one thing, the debates are at the VBA’s annual meeting where many well-paid lawyers gather. The venue has been at either high-priced resort that for years has offered well-heeled guests golf, mineral baths and haute cuisine. They are the kind of places where one dresses for dinner and doesn’t wear T-shirts and shorts in the lobby.
Well, this debate — slated for this Saturday at 11 a.m. — is about to get a lot more democratic.
A new initiative between the VBA and VirginiaTalks.com, which is designed to provide a place for political discussion, twitters, tweets and blogging by anyone, will stream the debates between Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds. The session will be moderated by Rod Smolla, dean of the Washington & Lee School of Law.
What’s more, farflung observers via the Web will be able to participate, too. They can take part in a simultaneous on-line discussions and ask questions that might be presented to the candidates during the event.
VirginiaTalks is an initiated by Style Weekly, Inc., the alternative newspaper in Richmond that is owned by Landmark Communications, also owners of the Roanoke Times and The Virginian-Pilot. (Full disclosure: I used on be a staff at the Pilot many moons ago and now free lance for Style). If interested, one can log on at www.Twitter.com/VirginiaTalks.
Kim Kovac, a spokeswoman for the VBA, told me that while the debates have always been open to the public, not many showed up since either resort hotel is a fair hike from population centers.
The idea is to democratize the debates. One result is that the new system might take the election process out of the realm of exclusive lawyers and into the public. Old Virginia, especially during the years of the Byrd Machine, was almost always exclusive rather than inclusive.
The change is welcome. So, twitter away!
Peter Galuszka

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83 responses to “Vox Populi Comes to the Gubernatorial Debates”

  1. J. Tyler Ballance Avatar
    J. Tyler Ballance

    The Homestead is where many of the past Republican Advances have been held. It is a very pleasant commute from Richmond, the staff is friendly and the atmosphere has always been welcoming.

    This would make a nice day trip, or citizens might enjoy planning to spend the night at the Homestead, or one of the other local hotels (some of which are quite economical).

    If readers can take the time, attending this event in person should prove to be a very enjoyable and informative outing. Don't let the fact that there will be a bunch of lawyers there put you off.

    For men, jacket and tie are optional, but go ahead and dress nicely and have a good time. There are usually some great side conversations before and after the main event.

    If you attend, be sure that someone asks the candidates to illustrate just what they have done in their prior elected offices to ENHANCE our liberty and what they plan to ENHANCE our liberty should they be elected.

  2. Groveton Avatar
    Groveton

    Well done!

    I'll be watching from my perch in NoVA. 11AM is usually too early for a Pabst but I might have to make an exception given I am watching two state politicians "debate". Has Daffy Duck(er) Deeds agreed to any more debates?

  3. Larry G Avatar

    Groveton, are you predicting that Nova will go for McDonnell?

  4. Groveton Avatar
    Groveton

    NoVA is a big place! Arlington and Alexandria will go Deeds. The only question is the around the percentage of victory. Loudoun and Prince William will, in my opinion, probably go McDonnell. That leaves Fairfax. If I had to guess today – I'd guess Deeds. But, again, this isn't a presidential vote. It's not the electoral college. McDonnell will win most Tidewater localities, most of western Virginia and the Richmond suburbs. Deeds will win most urban areas (by a lot), Charlottesville, some parts of western Virginia (centered around Bath County) and he'll get plenty of votes in NoVA.

    I think Fairfax County will be the "swing locality". Fairfax has become more Democratic. However, a lot of people up here see Deeds as just another "soak NoVA" politico whereas McDonnell is seen as more urbane and committed to the success of Northern Virginia. In my opinion, McDonnell could (conceivably) win Fairfax by a wide margin. But it's never going to be 2008 again – Bush is fading from memory, Obama is thrashing (like most presidents at about the 6 month mark) and Kaine is increasingly seen as a failure. I hear that Deeds has finally agreed to debate McDonnell 10 times (as McDonnell requested on July 1). The first debate will be Saturday and streamed live (as described in the attached blog article). I assume that all the debates will be streamed over the internet. They certainly all should be streamed. If so, I think these debates may be the tipping point between Deeds and McDonnell. Remember that these two ran against each other for Attorney General. McDonnell won but by the smallest of margins.

    I'll make a full prediction after I see a couple of the debates.

  5. Larry G Avatar

    Groveton – do you think (before the debates) that McDonnell is a more substantial candidate for Gov?

    Bonus Question: why?

  6. Larry G Avatar

    I think one of the frustrations that many of us have is when trying to choose between two candidates, we, more often than not, decide – to our horror – that neither really is the kind of guy/gal we'd REALLY like to do the job.

    The problem is that it's the way our system works.

    You have to ask yourself where these two guys came from, what they have done in their lives to prepare themselves for being Gov and how there might ever be – "better" competitors for the job.

    Unfortunately our system is pretty much pure political and the guys that rise to the top are – guess what – the best at politicking…

    If you think about it in this context – we could have (and have in the past) done a LOT WORSE than Kaine or Warner.

    The other thing is that we recognize/reward those in elected office – often not for their achievements or enduring contributions but their failures – the things that we had hoped they would accomplish but did not.

    as a system… it s_cks but the reality is …as they say… it's better than the alternatives….

    and one parting thought on that aspect.

    In this blog at various times, I hear..overt wishful thinking sometimes that we have someone in charge..making decisions…as if he/she is not elected and simply presides/rules.

  7. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Larry, while I differ with Mark Warner on taxes (he was a bit shady), he nevertheless was a pretty good governor. He consolidated a number of agencies and reduced state government employment. And Warner showed a good knack at working with legislators of all political stripes.

    But, outside Chapter 529's mandatory traffic studies for most large development projects, what positive things did Tim Kaine do as governor? I struggle to think of any positive contributions Kaine made. He let state employment back into the high growth mode. He misread the economy and pushed for more spending when the signs pointed to fiscal moderation. Maybe I'm forgetting something. If so, what?

    TMT

  8. Groveton Avatar
    Groveton

    I am watching the debate as I compose this.

    Some serious technical glitches in the early part of the debate (video freeze, no sound). Maybe The Real Virginia should let the Fake Virginia handle technology.

    Deeds is trying to make everything a question of abortion.

    Some bizarre commentary. "I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood in NoVA". Did he grow up in Mt Vernon or Belfast? All BS.

    "Yeah we've gotten lucky with the judges.".

    Now Deeds tries to pin McDonnell on talking about what's going on in Washington after blathering on and on about abortion. He then ducks the card check question saying that Virginia was just rated best place to do business. Of course, that was before card check.

    McDonnell goes to the 10th amendment. This is a winner for him.

    Deeds now has gone to full clown mode with a ramble on "huntin' an fishin'", "huntin' an fishin'". I hunt and fish yet I can still speak clearly. Does acting uneducated really get you votes in RoVA?

    They are both now swearing that the other is a tax and spend politician.

    McDonnell finally asks Deeds where the money for transportation will come from under his plan. Deeds the Dodger is failing the answer the question. He is babbling. "A lot of options on the table". "I will not fund transportation on the back of public education". Huh?

    "Creigh, you don't have a plan". "You ought to tell people exactly how you're going to fund it.". McDonnell is crushing Deeds on this. Just crushing him.

    Now McDonnell is dodging the same question he asked Deeds! Unbelievable! Deeds wasn't smart enough to ask McDonnell the question but the bloggers did.

    "I voted for the bill because the governor asked me to. I held my nose and voted yes." Creigh Deeds. And this guy wants to be governor? Spare me.

    I can't type as fast as these two can talk. But … McDonnell crushed Deeds in this debate. He just crushed him. It wasn't even close. I guess it's harder to run a "median strip campaign" in the internet era.

  9. Rtwng Extrmst Avatar
    Rtwng Extrmst

    By Groveton's account if Deeds had just said "I will not raise taxes on 95% of Virginians" and "if you make less than $250K I will not raise your taxes", his performance would have been pretty much like Obama's. After all, Obama refuses to get tangled up in things like facts.

  10. Larry G Avatar

    re: what has Kaine done for Virginia?

    so TMT is correct… the list of true accomplishments is pretty thin…

    so then I thought: " well what Govs in Virginia actually did make major contributions…

    how about we rank the top 3?

    so how about it TMT?

    who was better than Kaine and why?

  11. Larry G Avatar

    re: the debate

    WaPo said that McDonnell was going on and on about what a good job Bush did with the economy (as I write this in Baudette, Mn.

    is that true Groveton?

    Did McDonnell promise to use the Bush treatment on the Va. economy?

    refer back to my post about having to choose between two ..neither of which make you feel good…

  12. Groveton Avatar
    Groveton

    First and foremost – to Peter G and his friends at VirginiaTalks – well done!! Things were a bit rocky (technically speaking) at the start of the debate. But then everything settled down and the audio and video generally went very well. I have experience with this kind of stuff and I commend VirginiaTalks for pulling this off so well.

    I also thought the rolling commentary, Twitter hash code and audience submitted questions were brilliant. I had a great time sparring with the other real-time political junkies. Some of the comments were insightful, some were funny. I think it was more immersive to watch it via VirginiaTalks with the live commentary than to be there in person (just my guess). I also added a lot of peoplr to follow on Twitter by watching who was commenting with the Twitter hash code process (if anybody is interested – just ask and I'll explain – it sounds more mysterious than it is).

    Peter – Please tell all the people involved in this that they did a great job. It was exactly what's needed in Virginia politics (in fact, all politics). It exposed strengths and weaknesses in both candidates (although I think it exposed a lot more weakness in Deeds).

    Now, the technology works. Next problem is how to focus these two professional politicians on sticking to the issues and answering questions of substance (again, I think McDonnell did much better although he had his quirks).

  13. Groveton Avatar
    Groveton

    McDonnell did ramble on inexplicably about Bush-O-Nomics. He definitely lost his focus with that little rant. However, it was relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.

    Deeds scored some points on McDonnell's record of supporting tax hikes.

    It wasn't an entirely one sided debate.

    More of a unanimous decision than a knockout or even technical knockout. But not a split decision either. Deeds lost, McDonnell won.

    LarryG – Glad you are getting your Virginia news from the Washington Post. I suggest that you switch to Style Weekly, the Roanoake Times and/or the Virginian Pilot. They proved, with their sponsorship of this event, that they understand more about Virginia politics than anybody else in the business. You see, the real problem in Virginia isn't whether McDonnell drones on about Bush or Deeds reprises an old Hee Haw episode with his "huntin' an' fishin'" clap-trap. The real problem is that too many people rely on the dimwits at The Washington Post to tell them what to believe rather than figuring it out for themselves. And the elected cockroatches in Richmond are only too happy to conduct business in the dark. VirginiaTalks, Style Weekly, Landmark, etc have turned the tables on this disgraceful behavior.

    And how have the candidates reacted?

    McDonnell wants 9 more debates.

    Deeds can't make a clear statement (nothing new if you saw yesterday's debate) – he'll do 9 more somethings. Maybe debates, maybe public forums, maybe public appearances. Maybe he just finds the political kitchen more inviting when it's dark.

    Vote based on transparency not the washington post (I won't even dignify them by using caps).

  14. Larry G Avatar

    well.. I'm literally responding on the road … near Waskish, Mn…

    so. I don't have a lot of time to pursue a wide range of commentary… while driving…

    but I did a quick check of WaPo this morning leaving the campground and they mentioned it… and you…did not…so I did ask…

    but listening to you… it does not sound like you have a lot of admiration for McDonnell but more disdain for deeds….

    what a ugly way to make a choice!

    is this what most of us Virginian's are faced with this fall?

  15. Groveton Avatar
    Groveton

    I think the Virginia political process (conducted in the dark, median strip campaigns) creates candidates who are puppets of various vested interests. I think the electorate would like to make more informed decisions but are denied direct access to the process. Yesterday's debate was a big step forward in changing that. I certainly didn't make both the candidates instant issue based guys. But I'll bet Deeds has an answer to the question of transportation funding before he gets up on the next stage. And I'll bet McDonnell will be able to explain how applying Bush-O-Nomics will help Virginia.

    In fairness, both men also had high points. McDonnell's description of the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre was heart breaking but exceptional. He talked about working with Tim Kaine to close the mental health loophole. Deeds scored points with me when he insisted that the debate remain focused on Virginia (vs. national) issues.

  16. Larry G Avatar

    well.. one of these guys is going to replace Tim Kaine.

    Is Transportation the issue they need to address?

    Is Deeds correct when he says that the solution to Va. Transportation needs should not come at the expense of education?

    How about that statement from a NoVa viewpoint – who is a huge net donor of education funding in Va.. while at the same time having serious unfunded transportation needs?

    What if.. McDonnell supported a change to the way that Va funds education… taking the burden off of NoVa and freeing up that money to deal with NoVa Transportation needs?

    Would the GA sign off on such a deal or give McDonnell a whupping for even bringing it up?

  17. Groveton Avatar
    Groveton

    "Is Transportation the issue they need to address?".

    No. Employment is the #1 issue (McAuliffe always had that right). But transportation is in the top 3.

    "Is Deeds correct when he says that the solution to Va. Transportation needs should not come at the expense of education?".

    No. RoVa code talk for "keep soaking NoVa".

    "How about that statement from a NoVa viewpoint – who is a huge net donor of education funding in Va.. while at the same time having serious unfunded transportation needs?".

    I am not sure who is empowered to make a statement on behalf of NoVa. Oh, wait a minute … As the King of NoVa, I issue the following royal proclamation – If all of us Virginians are in this together then we need more money for transportation up here. If there isn't enough money then raise the gas tax. If we're not all in this together – no more tax subsidies from NoVa to RoVa. Why is this idea challenging to people like Creigh Deeds?

    "What if.. McDonnell supported a change to the way that Va funds education… taking the burden off of NoVa and freeing up that money to deal with NoVa Transportation needs?".

    Sounds good to me. However, just to be clear, I'd vote for either of the wing dings if they'd just commit to a clear accounting of the sources and uses of funds by locality in Virginia. The rich should pay more in taxes than the poor (both in dollars and percentage of income). But remember – people are rich or poor – not counties. So, special sales tax surcharges on NoVa are BS. Also, it is widely believed that the tax burden falls disproportionately on NoVa (at least by most of us in NoVa). The governor owes us an accounting of the facts. Is that really too much to ask?

    "Would the GA sign off on such a deal or give McDonnell a whupping for even bringing it up?".

    2009 GA – Whine and cry, howl at the moon, say things like, "We ain't payin' for no Nova roads". In other words, they'd be just as useless as they've been for years.

    2011 GA (post 2010 Census redistricting) – Each party faces losing both houses if they don't find a way to solve transportation issues. Whining, crying, and howling at the moon are no longer sufficient to maintain control.

    That's why McDonnell should start with a simple pledge to document the sources and uses of funds by locality. Something everybody can understand.

  18. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Larry – Best Governors. I moved here in 1984 so I only saw the tail end of Chuck Robb's term. Not enough to include him.

    I won't rank them – not sure I could, but the top 3 for me were Doug Wilder – George Allen – Mark Warner.

    I'll always like Doug Wilder because he refused to raise taxes during an economic downturn. He understood that businesses and individuals cut back in tough times, so should government. On the negative side, Wilder lost a lot of approval and credibility when he ran for the presidency while still Governor.

    George Allen pissed off the developer-government contractor-taxpayer hanger-on community. Virginia's biggest problem is out of control development, which is already subsidized by taxpayers. So, in my book, anyone who rocks their boats (including Tim Kaine) gets some points. On the negative side, Allen was a lot like Kaine, he couldn't play well with legislators who didn't agree with him.

    Mark Warner — He cut the size of government. Upset a few editorial writers at the Post. On the downside, he fibbed about taxes. Screwed Fairfax County in the process, but we are generally too stupid to understand what happened to us.

    Both Tim Kaine and Jim Gilmore get some points, but not enough to overcome their negative points. Gilmore's car tax cut prevented even more NoVA money from flowing to RoVA to keep their real estate taxes low. On the negative side, he screwed up the last year by forcing one more year of the car tax cut when the numbers didn't justify it. He also had trouble playing well with others.

    Tim Kaine, as I've said before, lots of points for Chapter 529 tying transportation to land use. In fact, Gerry Connolly reportedly went to Richmond to complain that 529 might sink Tysons Corner. But Kaine got cold feet and did the Bill Thomas shuffle – push for higher taxes to ensure the developers can continue their subsidized business plans. Kaine also committed a Gilmore by pushing for more spending when the numbers didn't justify it and, of course, Kaine too doesn't play well with others. Kaine loses a couple of points for having Linwood Holton for a father in law. Holton is a total shill for every developer and subsidized business in the Commonwealth.

    Gerry Baliles was, IMO, the worst of the lot. He pushed through higher gas and sales taxes at the behest of the developers. And didn't do much else.

    TMT

  19. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Groveton – You are correct, jobs are number one. Both McAuliffe and McDonnell understand that.

    Transportation. First, let's get an adequate public facilities law in place so that we can catch up. The current system means the developers will always be two steps ahead and transportation will never catch up. Then, let's drive out the subsidies. The average auto or small truck doesn't damage the roads — big trucks do. Let's put most of the maintenance costs on big trucks, which, in turn, will push some of the traffic onto rail, which, in turn, will reduce the amount of road and bridge damage each year.

    Then let's get transportation proffers or impact fees set at cost. Then let's talk revenue, but we also need to address how to have alternative fuels contribute.

    Schools versus roads. You nailed that one. Deeds is just looking to keep RoVA real estate taxes low. We need a new social contract; either we cut the amount of school aid paid by NoVA to help only truly poor areas of the state and then NoVA can fund its own roads. Or we shift most of the transportation dollars to NoVA to build our transportation facilities to keep the rest of the dollars flowing south.

    In any event, RoVA needs to pick either Door A (transportation) or Door B (education). But not both. And we need to stop electing clowns to the General Assembly who permit RoVA to have Door A and Door B.

    TMT

  20. Larry G Avatar

    thanks TMT and Groveton for the commentaries…

    Of the two – my guess is that Deeds is more likely to advocate raising the gas tax than McDonnell.

    neither of them… so far.. has demonstrated to me – a BOLD agenda….

    not necessarily status quo but certainly much more timid than McAuliffe.

    Looking at the VPAP data… I doubt seriously that either one of these guys will match Kaine on growth regs… much less support a APF agenda.

    I know Va is "pro-development" but is it any more or less so than many other states?

    Could APF be perceived by some to be a "no more growth here" club?

    I still have that question about what if Tysons is destined to grow more and more (dense) such that it becomes more and more a city and less and less a suburb of a city…

    In that context, how should APF "work"… say in a place like NYC or Chicago… or for that matter .. Duluth, Mn… from where I type this… a city of about 85K with a freeway system backfitted over the city and it's steep terrain…

    talk about your flyovers and elevated freeways and the ramps up and down to them… whew!

    anyhow…we have places… where there is much more density than can support "typical" solo automobile mobility….

    would those places ever have come to exist if we used an APF approach to traffic?

    how do places like Duluth/Chicago/Minneapolis become the places they are if APF is the traffic reg?

  21. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    APF exists in many parts of the U.S., where growth continues, e.g., Florida and Texas. I would not argue that APF is perfect, but neither is it terrible unless you have a belief that undeveloped dirt (greenfields or brownfields) has more rights than any other type of property — real or personal — tangible or intangible.

    The SEC just adopted a permanent rule yesterday that prohibits naked short selling. That is a restriction on property. Dominion Power cannot decide to charge any rate it wants for electricity. It's rates are regulated by the VSCC. That is a restriction on property.

    The highest and best use of a trader's money may well be to short-sell stock without first being required to purchase or borrow the shares. Likewise, Dominion's shareowners' highest and best use of their investment may be to have the company charge whatever electric rates it wants.

    But that doesn't happen. So why shouldn't my dirt also be subject to reasonable regulation? I cannot build a new housing development that will overwhelm the roads and the schools. Why are the former regulations acceptable, but restricting building is somehow anti-property rights?

    It is not anti-property rights whatsoever. It's anti-Old Virginy where property rights once included the right to own and sell slaves.

    APF is a reasonable next step.

    TMT

  22. Larry G Avatar

    I'm not opposed to APF. I think it is definitely needed … but APF for a suburban area would seem to me to be a different standard than say APF for a place like Arlington… or any place growing "up" rather than out.

    Would applying an APF for Tysons be different than Fredericksburg different from NYC?

    Suburbs are expected to generate about 10 trips per day per residence but NYC does not generate near that amount of trips per day per residence – no?

  23. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Suburbs are expected to generate about 10 trips per day per residence but NYC does not generate near that amount of trips per day per residence – no?"

    First of all, no. Even NYC has a huge dependency on auto travel. Only about 10% of trips depend on transit. To the extent that walking is an option, stidies have shown that in most places (I don't know about NYC specifically) walking trips are in addition to and not a replacement of auto trips. The same is true of transit to some extent: you do not get a one to one replacement of auto trips withtransit trips.

    This is the big unknown fallacy in transit oriented development: you will get some savings, but not as much as usually advertised. As a result, what is planned as APF will fail to be adequate.

    ————————

    "APF exists in many parts of the U.S., where growth continues, e.g., Florida and Texas. I would not argue that APF is perfect, but neither is it terrible unless you have a belief that undeveloped dirt (greenfields or brownfields) has more rights than any other type of property — real or personal — tangible or intangible."

    The fact that some growth continues to occur where APF is enforced means nothing: the fact is that it increases the cost of home ownership and it is a benefit to current owners over and above future owners.

    Unless that disparity is addressed the propertyrights issue is exactly the opposite of what you describe. APF benefits existing homeoners at the expense of future homeowners. The alternative is that we borrow to build APF and future homeowners foot the bill anyway. The difference is that in the second case you GET APF and in the first you don't.

    Otherwise, if it is ONLY a matterof APF then we should simply put a price on development and allow ANY development that meets the APF standards.

    But we know that APF has nothing to do with actually providing APF and everything to do with preventing it, and any devlopment that might come with it.

    If we had a true "pay top play" form of APF then the next thing you would see is APF standards so high that no one can afford to meet them.

    RH

  24. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Ray – Let's assume that an APF law is a tax on newcomers. Then, axiomatically, the lack of an APF law is a tax on those who are here now. Are we on common ground here?

    For purposes of finding more common ground, let's assume that AFP restrictions are limited to changes in the Comp Plan or zoning. So if you are or I am permitted to build to a density of two houses per acre or commercial property to a FAR of 1.5, APF doesn't apply. But, if either of us need a Plan amendment or any kind of zoning relief, APF applies in spades. No relief unless the public facilities can be provided concomitantly with a plan that does not unfairly burden existing taxpayers – i.e., the combination of future taxes from the improved property and proffers/impact fees pay for the proportionate share of the incremental public facilities that are needed.

    If this were the proposal, are we on the same page?

    TMT

  25. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Then, axiomatically, the lack of an APF law is a tax on those who are here now. Are we on common ground here?

    No.

    Those who are here now have already availed themselves of rights they now wish to deny to others. The taxes you are describing are not the same.

    Existing dwellers NOW want to control property they do not own in order to secure their own lifestyle, standard of living, and quality of life. Had they set those standards to begin with,then they would have had to pay much more for their properties, and most of them would not exist.

    To now demand those standards at someone else's expense is stealing: it means the previously existing rules enticed some people to buy or hold property under false pretenses. In the cost analysis world there is a name for this phenomenon, but I forget what it is.

    And then, existing land owners who may have paid property taxes for decades or even centuries, for services they don't get, are assumed to be getting some kind of "windfall" when they eventually succumb to the pressures they are under. Those that conserved the most for the longest get penalized the most.

    If we are going to charge for facilities to be built and services to be provided then we need to credit where services have been paid for and not recieved.

    Fair is fair and your analysisi is not.

    Note: I enjoy wealth and income (and high taxes) from my Alexandria home, but I WOULD NOT be allowed those benefits under today's rules. I climbed through that window about six months before it slammed shut forever.

    I've been on both sides of the fence you describe, and being shut out is simply wrong. there is no (valid)reason why any other landowner with a situation similar to what I had, should not be allowed to build today.

    Unless, the existing landowners are willing to buy him out. If they cannot afford that, then they cannot afford the lifestyle they are demanding.

    RH

  26. Larry G Avatar

    Ray's thesis if I understand it TMT, is that when you moved into your house that someone else had already paid for the infrastructure that you enjoy and you got it for "free" and now you want to charge those who would come after you for their infrastructure instead of you paying for it.

    what I don't get is.. who it was that came before you.. and paid for all the stuff that you got when you moved in.

    how far back does it go that someone before you – paid for the infrasturcture that you enjoyed for "free"?

    who paid for the initial infrastructure way back when there was none if not the folks who moved in at that time?

  27. Larry G Avatar

    the problem with Ray's thesis is that if the current property owners have to pay for future infrastructure – it is not capped at all… no matter what the rate ..scope and scale of growth… Ray would have the existing property owners pay for the future infrastructure…

    The only world that this would conceivably "work" is one where the local govt is not elected.

    Otherwise.. we all know what happens… out they go and in comes the proffer system.

    Ray also forgets that infrastructure…has to be built often before the growth occurs… can't build homes if you don't have the water/sewer capacity… nor schools.

    these things have to be "in place" so that new homes have water/sewer hookups that actually "work" and schools that actually have available seats for the new students.

    Where does the money come from to build these things so they are ready to use when the growth occurs?

    don't the existing folks provide the taxes to build this stuff and then the new folks pay to reimburse them?

  28. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Ray's thesis if I understand it TMT, is that when you moved into your house that someone else had already paid for the infrastructure that you enjoy and you got it for "free" and now you want to charge those who would come after you for their infrastructure instead of you paying for it."

    Nope, never said anything like that. What I am saying is pure and simple. People who alreadyhave their homes and whatever infrastructure that exists (never mind who paid for it, it is not germaine) now want to protect their "quality of life" by limiting other peoples right to have what they have. The problem is that it isn't "their" quality of life to begin with. It would only be "theirs" if they paid for ALL of it. But a good deal of "their" quality of life exists ONLY because the people behind them have not yet exercised the same rights that others have used up.

    Now that a majority of homeowners or developed property owners exist, relative to undeveloped property owners, it is easy for them to get what they want.

    Some people are now complaining bitterly that our new proposed healthcare paln may be funded primarily by the rich. As long as there is enough money held by a few, it is easy for the majority to steal it. That doesn't make it right, but if you need money and it only exists in one place (5% of the population has 95% of the income) then there is no place else to get it.

    Likewise with quality of life. We have already used up our share of "quality of life" by developing our properties. We can't make it any better without leveling our own homes, but we can make sure it doesn't get worse by ensuring others don't develop theirs. So, we go after the 5% who have 95% of the "quality of life" wealth, same as with health care.

    Not only is this wrong to begin with, but we attempt to justify it with a bogus AFP argument that is a factually deficient, ethically bankrupt ruse to hide our true intentions. It is a regulatory taking and it amounts to stealing.

    We could have bought their property at the same time we bought ours and preserved our own quality of life, at our own expense, but that would have cost us so much more we would not be able to live here.

    I have a neighbor who owns part of what was once my farm. She told me that she hoped I never develop. Why? because it is good for her that I don't. At least she is honest.

    I merely pointed out that if my wife's mother had to live under the same rules we have now, then neither one of us would be here to have this conversation. My wife's mother would have had to sell everything in one piece and we wouldn't be here, and my neighbor would have had nothing to buy.

    The present owner would be someone with more money than both of us combined, but the combination of her property and my property would be worth more than the undivided whole.

    And yet, some people claim that "our" quality of life is enhanced by prohibiting developmet. they are invriably those that have already developed.

    Before EMR jumps in, this has nothing to do with my property or my desires: it is simply a first hand example of what happens.

    So

    1) If you think this is about required public facilities, then put on a price and let anyone build who will pay the price.

    2) If you are not willing to do that, then it isn't about APF at all, but it is something else. That makes you a liar.

    3) If you insist that anyone who upgrades their zoning pay for the privilege, then anyone who is downgraded should be paid, by the same token.

    4) Number 3) only applies to those that request additional zoning right. (And by reverse extension to those that request zoning rights be downgraded). By-rights are by-right, just as the name implies.

    The problem is that you cannot agree to 3) and 4) without EITHER giving up all justification for APF or admitting that downgrading by-rights by whatever means is simply stealing.

    RH

  29. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "who it was that came before you.. and paid for all the stuff that you got when you moved in."

    In 1830 there pretty much wasn't anyone else here, and no stuff either. Here on the farm there pretty much still isn't.

    The county claims we pay taxes at twice the rate we cost in services and, having no children, I suspect that is an understatement.

    By now, I figure I and my predecessors have paid for a good deal of "stuff" for other people, and I don't see anything wrong, nor do I feel badly, about expecting the favor returned. If I ever get them there won't be any "windfall profits" here. There is no windfall in something that takes more than 150 years to get.

    ————————–

    But here is what happened instead: at one time by-rights here on the farm were one house per three acres, now they are zero. And yet, some smaller farms that have sold off just as many lots still have by-rights remaining. That is because smaller acreage was granted more by-rights to begin with.

    That was the first round of attempting to "save" the larger lots to enhance the quality of life for others. There have been six more rounds of the same kind of thing since then.

    And now, the county has admitted that building rights are valuable property, and they want to buy them back. They just don't have enough money.

    I'd be happy to sell them some building rights, if they would just give back the ones already stolen.

    Actually, I wouldn't be all that happy, because a three acre lot around here (if you could find one) sells for over ten times what the county is offering, sans house.

    What that means is that compared to the original by-rights, in todays dollars the county has cost me considerably over $10 million dollars in potential value.

    But, what the heck, I get to enjoy ground zero of all this "quality of life" that the county enjoys from afar.

    So long as I agree to lose my shirt and break my back farming it. In the meantime, it is going to take a long time and a lot of tax money to "buy" all of the "qualty of life" the county seems to want to preserve.

    In buying back development rights the county is making a small gesture inthe right direction. But, the county hasn't yet made the logical leap that suggests that buying rights now, must mean those taken previously were stolen.

    RH

  30. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "…how far back does it go that someone before you – paid for the infrasturcture that you enjoyed for "free"?"

    That never happened. Nice try though.

    From the get go, infrastructure was paid for with bonds, meaning future citizens enjoyed the cost.

    Rome paid for its infrastructure with slaves, which is pretty much the status I enjoy as a Fauquier Farmer.

    RH

  31. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "the problem with Ray's thesis is that if the current property owners have to pay for future infrastructure – it is not capped at all… no matter what the rate ..scope and scale of growth"

    At last you have half of an argument. Whoever set the initial by-rights should have thought of that. But no one could have forseen the rate of growth that happened in some areas.

    In some respects it is a false argument: we cannot claim to be controlling the rate of groath where ALL growth is prohibited.

    If the county told me that I have one by-right per three acres, but I can only use one every ten years, well, I could live with that. But what I have is none, ever. So don;t try to convince me this is about rate of growth.

    If it is about rate of growth, then the county could say look, we can only stand 600 building permits this year: we are going to give them away to county citizens by lottery. They can sell them for whatever they will bring or keep them as they see fit. The county will tax the proceeds of any sales 10% in lieu of permit fees.

    Under that plan, anyone who doesn;t want growth can pocket the permit, but they absorb the cost. Anyone who is not so picky can sell the permits for whatever they will bring, and thereby participate in the benefits of growth.

    If this was about controlling the rate of growth we could find a way to do that.

    The last issue of Chesapeake Bay Journal came out and said that controlling the rate of growth is no longer enough: we must smply declare we are built out and stop growth entirely.

    But, CBJ did't say how they would propose compensating people whose property just became worthless.

    RH

  32. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Ray also forgets that infrastructure…has to be built often before the growth occurs… can't build homes if you don't have the water/sewer capacity… nor schools."

    That kind of blows the argument that those doing the building have to pay for it, doesn't it? They cant pay for anything until they have the profits from building.

    You create a chicken and egg problem, declare there is no solution, and therefore we are justified in preventing any building, forever.

    It isn't as if building does not happen: clearly it does. But every single time it does happen some builder is going to have to run the gauntlest of people who think they are justified in preventing it, and hopefully forever.

    You can convince me I'm wrong on this the first time certain organizations come out in favor of some development.

    Look, I agree with what is trying to be done. I just cannot agree with the sloppy arguments, slimeball tactics, lies, and outright thiivery that is being used to gain the desired ends.

    If that is what conservation boils down to, then I don't want any part of it. When conservationists are wiling to play by the same rules they think developers should play by, then I will sit up and take notice.

    Until then, count me as an ex-environmentalists, and ex- conservationist unless I see something really valuable happening.

    RH

  33. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Mcdonnell's transportation stance is unrealistic and Deed's is disingenuous.

    It is too bad that one of these two will win. It will be without my help, even if I have to write in my own name.

    RH

  34. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "…don't the existing folks provide the taxes to build this stuff and then the new folks pay to reimburse them?"

    Evidently not, otherwise we would have enough infrastructure and we wouldn't be worried about it.

    But we all know this isn't about infrastructure: we have convinced ourselves that more of (our)_ property is more valuable if we have the qualty of life that doesn't need infrastructure.

    Especially other people's infrastructure.

    It is a self-serving argument squared.

    RH

  35. Larry G Avatar

    " If you think this is about required public facilities, then put on a price and let anyone build who will pay the price."

    they do. If you want to build a home and need water & sewer – it is not a "right".

    The only "right" you have is the "right" to pay for it – WHERE it is available (and paid for by others before you).

    You – as a property owner do not have an inherent "right" to publically-funded (by others) – infrastructure.

    there is no "right".

    "Whoever set the initial by-rights should have thought of that. But no one could have forseen the rate of growth that happened in some areas."

    WHO? You mean you don't know how the system was originally set up and by who and with what rules?

    If you don't know these things, how can you claim that these are "pre-established" rights?

    If you own property and it's not already on a publically-funded road – no one else "owes" you that road.

    If you own a piece of property and you want to build 100 units and the existing road cannot handle that level of traffic – no one "owes" you the upgraded road.

    If you buy a new home where there are no schools – no one "owes" you a new school.

    In most places – these things are paid for by the people that need them via proffers or impact fees.

    It is not about stopping growth at all but the simple idea that a water/sewer line and a treatment plant are not free and does cost money – and we do not build them to give away to folks building new homes.

    When you buy a piece of property – where on the deed – does it say you have a "right" to water & sewer on that property?

    Even a rezoning does not give you that "right".

    What it gives you is the "right" to pay for it… IF it is "available".

    In other words, if that property is not near water/sewer then you don't even have a right to buy it…

    this is not about stopping growth at all.. it's about paying for the infrastructure that a structure needs to be usable and functional.

    You will find if you look back that when new infrastructure was built – often a group of property owners would build it and build in enough excess to sell the extra to others – to get their money back.

    That's the way counties build water & sewer right now.

    They front the money.. build the stuff and then charge folks the pro-rata share necessary to pay off the cost.

    there never was people who used their own money to build infrastructure to give away to future property owners.

    It's a myth ….

  36. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Stealing — There's a difference under Virginia law between building to right and seeking permission to build beyond what is permitted today.

    I went to a meeting this week where the operators of Vinson Hall, a military retirement community in McLean, were talking about expansion plans. They want to build more independent living units but no more than they are permitted to build to day with their current zoning approvals. With the single exception of a request to plant some more trees to screen a new parking structure, no one asked Vinson Hall for any additional proffers or other contributions. The discussion was about what would be built and how. But no one asked for anything. The impact of these additional units were, at least in theory, already considered by the Fairfax BoS. It's a done deal.

    Suppose, however, that Vinson Hall would have asked to build more units than they are permitted to build today. That's something different. The additional units would put more pressure on existing on existing infrastructure. Not schools, but certainly roads (independent living), water, parks, sewer, etc.

    But for the additional development beyond what is permitted today, there would be no additional stress on the public facilities. None. Vinson Hall can build to right without additional contribution. If it wants to go beyond that, it needs to make contributions of some type to the additional costs it will cause.

    Why should another retiree living in another retirement complex, an apartment building or his/her own home pay higher taxes so that Vinson Hall can build beyond what it is permitted to build to today? Ray, if you were a Fairfax County supervisor, how would you answer this question to the retirees who don't live at Vinson Hall? Then, if you can do that, explain to the retirees everywhere in Fairfax County, why they should pay higher taxes to fund infrastructure for the landowners at Tysons Corner.

    TMT

  37. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "they do. If you want to build a home and need water & sewer – it is not a "right"."

    What has that got to do with places where public water and sewer are not available?

    What about someone who is willing to use all new technology, like a package treatment plant or incinerator and condensed water?

    Regardless of what you claim, this isn't about finding ways to let people build, there are plenty of them that could work, but they are mostly illegal. It is about finding ways to prevent them from building, and it is done primarily to increase the value of existing properties.

    You are wrong about there not being any rights. There are rights and they were stolen. the rights still exist, but now someone else has control of them.

    In Fauquier and other places, the county has admitted as much by turning around and buying such rights as remain.

    RH

  38. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Stealing — There's a difference under Virginia law between building to right and seeking permission to build beyond what is permitted today."

    Yes, I agree, and I have always agreed. My argument concernsitself primarily with by-right development.

    The problem is that if you want people to pay for additional building rights, then you recognize that these have value. Once you doo that, you are obligated to pay when building rights are reduced. This is elementary fair play, and we ought to be able to expect governemtn to treat us fairly: otherwise it is stealing.

    Nowadays, even by-right development is under attack: "The problem we face is the 15,000 unbuilt lots…."

    Well, if the county thinks that is a problem, they are free to go buy those lots. But that is going to mean taxes increase MORE than if they allow them to be developed. So, the only affordable route left is to steal the development rights, or seriously reduce their value by imposing substantial developemnt fees that existing residents never paid.

    This makes existing homes more valuable and new ones less affordable. We have seen that during the housing bust those homes that fell the most in value are in places where the values were artificially inflated through restrictive zoning and building regs.

    RH

  39. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    When I accuse (ourselves, all of us) of stealing I refer to by-right development which is eliminated or reduced in value by various means.

    When I accuse (ourselves, all of us) of lying to get what we want, refer to to rules which are not intended and were never intended to be what they claim: if your goal is to control the rate of growth, the way you do that is put rate limits on, not by forbidding growth forever. If your goal is to control the externalized price of growth, you can't do that by refusing to say what the externalized price is. It is a lie to say we are concerned about the cost of growth and then refuse to accept money in payment.

    It is a lie to claim that we are affected negatively by new development, when we knew that we did not control all the rights at the time we developed our properties.

    It is unfair to claim we and our existing development are affected negatively by new development, at the same time we are attempting to neagatively impact new development with our existing impact.

    It is a lie to claim that "new people" cause congestion on "our" roads when we cause the same congestion to them.

    Restricting existing building rights, by whatever method, is no diffeent from selling a putative building lot, and then going to the board to pettitions that building be prevented there.

    RH

  40. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I find it disgusting that there are people so personally motivated and so ethically challenged that they refuse to treat their neighbors as equals. That they think they somehow have a a prior, preexisting, and superior right to the exlusive use of things we claim we all own.

    To me, these are simple and obvious truths about what is right and wrong. My Mom was not an educated person, but she drilled home the basics of right and wrong. My father was educated and he taught me the difference between reason and rhetoric.

    So far your arguments are circular and therefore self defeating: "we already pay the taxes to provide the infrastructure, thats why we don't have enough". "We are not against growth, we only want to control the rate of growth – to zero and forever."

    You have too many arguments going in too many directions, "thou dost protest too much", which makes your arguments supect. And, all of these arguments are designed to promote a principal of basic unfairness.

    And this is always ultimately revealed when Larry pulls his trump card: we have more votes and more power and you never had any rights to begin with. this is the mental version of sticking a gun in my face.

    I am simply not willing to join tht kind of gang, and i willstand here as long as I am able to try to point out why and to what degree it is wrong, unfair, and unethical.

    I believe you are promoting a way of thinking and a round of ordinances and other controls that are dangerous: once you refuse to recognize and defend other people's rights you pave the way to losing your own. We do not need "too much" government, whatever that is, because it increases te costs to all of us, but we do need government that recognizes that its core responsibility is protecting everyones life and property equally.

    That is why you cannot win this argument by claiming you have more rights, or by claiming you are absorbing more costs.

    The only way you can , not win, but break even, on this argument is when I hear you start arguing in favor of methods that attempt to ensure, codify, and measure, and eqully distribute fairness. It isn't about wealth redistribution is is about equal opportunity.

    And that means equal opportunity in time. We hear a lot about burdening our grandchildren with debt, and a lot about ssaving the planet for them. Fine, but when we build things that last for generations, then generations should help pay for it. And I'm nost sure I see the point in saving the planet for others by reaching out of the grave to tie up their opportunities to live in it.

    We know how to do what needs to be done and we know how to do it fairly, but shallow, self serving, and unethical behavior has become the group-think norm.

    Sorry, I'm not signing up for it. I'm not willing to go to the board and say that some poor slob who has the same conditions I faced 20 years ago can't now do the same thing I did then. A house is not Kepone.

    Not only that, but I think any board who does ought to be fired: unless they can convince everyone else tht this prevention is sufficiently in their interest that they should pay for it.

    If we don't put a price on the right to say "no" then, like anything else, that facility will be over used.

    RH

  41. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Why should another retiree living in another retirement complex, an apartment building or his/her own home pay higher taxes so that Vinson Hall can build beyond what it is permitted to build to today?"

    If the case is truly that simple then there is no reason.

    But you know and I know it isn't that simple, and it is a bad argument anyway. It is like saying why should a retiree living in another complex have to be inconvenienced by standing in line behind a new retiree from another complex at the pharmacy: after all time is money, especially to retrired folks who don't have that much left.

    My first question would be, what were the rules when Vinson Hall acwuired the property? If they were the same as today, then too bad. If not, then they have a legitimate gripe: they are enjoying additional costs, ame as the exiting residents are enjoying additional costs.

    My second question would be, how do we know that the additional coast is really attributable to Vinson Hall? Or how much of it is? Are ther OTHER reasons for tax increases besides new development. how do we know the origianl ratepaid wasn't too low, because it was being subsidized by undeveloped or underdeveloped properties?

    My third question would be did the residents of the existing home have the same opportunity and take a pass on it? As long as everyone has the SAME oppoertunity to apply for additional developemtn then everyone should expect to pay for that opportunity.

    We pay for the use of roads, but we also pay for the OPPORTUNITY of using those roads, whether we use it or not.

    Ty asking yourself what is fair for the other guy, instead of what is unfair for yourself. You will get better results for everyone.

    RH

  42. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "If you don't know these things, how can you claim that these are "pre-established" rights?"

    I know that at one time th eby rights in my neighborhood were one lot per three acres.

    Now they are not.

    Somebody took those rights and didn't pay for them.

    Now they are offering to pay for existing remaining rights that were not stolen.

    —————

    What else could I possibly need to know?

    If this could happen to me it must have, and has happened to other people. I think it is wrong and I call it stealing. You can call it whatever you like if it eases your conscience.

    It doesn't help mine and I won't stand for it. Not by any name.

    RH

  43. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "None. Vinson Hall can build to right without additional contribution. If it wants to go beyond that, it needs to make contributions of some type to the additional costs it will cause."

    I don't have any problem with that. now suppose that Vinson Hall builds to LESS than the allowed amount, and saves the community money for many years.

    Are you willing to give them a discount for the costs they did not cause? Are you willing to guarantee they can put in the additional units later, that those "existing rights" won't disappear like mine did?

    It seems to me that these are obvious and fair corollaries to the claim that Vinson Hall "needs to make contributions of some type to the additional costs it will cause."

    You can't see that your claim that they should pay for certain things obligates you to pay for certain things? This seems perfectly obvious to me.

    RH

  44. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Backed by studies showing that middle-class Seattle residents can no longer afford the city's middle-class homes, consensus is growing that prices are too darned high. But why are they so high?

    An intriguing new analysis by a University of Washington economics professor argues that home prices have, perhaps inadvertently, been driven up $200,000 by good intentions.

    Between 1989 and 2006, the median inflation-adjusted price of a Seattle house rose from $221,000 to $447,800. Fully $200,000 of that increase was the result of land-use regulations, says Theo Eicher — twice the financial impact that regulation has had on other major U.S. cities.

    "In a nationwide study, it can be shown that Seattle is one of the most regulated cities and a city whose housing prices are profoundly influenced by regulations," he says"

    "A key regulation is the state's Growth Management Act, enacted in 1990 in response to widespread public concern that sprawl could destroy the area's unique character. To preserve it, the act promoted restrictions on where housing can be built. The result is artificial density that has driven up home prices by limiting supply, Eicher says.

    Long building-permit approval times and municipal land-use restrictions upheld by courts also have played significant roles in increasing Seattle's housing costs, he adds."

    Eicher's $200,000 conclusion doesn't surprise Kriss Sjoblom, staff economist for the Washington Research Council, a nonpartisan organization that examines public-policy issues.

    "It's actually pleasing," Sjoblom says, "that we finally have data that allows us to show things we thought were there all the time."

    Seattle Times

    How much do you need to know before you know you are wrong?

    RH

  45. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "If you're a homeowner and growth controls are imposed and housing prices shoot up, you're grandfathered because you own the place. In theory people will say it's [rising prices] a bad thing, but in practice it's not hurting them."

    Sjoblom says that's why making the changes that would foster affordability are so hard to get past the public, some 68 percent of whom are homeowners."

    More from the Seattle Times, all of which I have explained here, many times.

    RH

  46. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Anderson estimates that regulatory costs comprise up to 30 percent of the total cost of building a new house (land costs included). The laundry list of fees and requirements can run to 30 or more, depending on where the house is built.

    Among them, Anderson says, are transportation, school and park impact fees, stormwater management fees, critical-areas mitigation and monitoring, pavement requirements and rockery permits.

    And then there's the dollar cost of the process itself."

    We all want all these things, but we think we can;t afford them. how then, can we reasonably xpect that a small subset of ourselves (the builders and developers) can afford to pay it for us?

    RH

  47. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "But for the additional development beyond what is permitted today, there would be no additional stress on the public facilities. None. "

    So what?

    Given that there is stress (forgetting how we got here) on the public systems doesn't that stress come equally from existing and new constructions?

    Why should ONLY the new construction bear the cost?

    Or, suppose the construction never happens, saving the community much money. Why should Only the construction company bear the cost? why sholdn't they share in the savings being made?

    As I told my supervisor, "If you will pay me just 5% interests on the money that you claim I'm saving you by not building, I will happily shut up, because now wyou will have acknowledged that the SOURCE of your savings is my opportunity cost."

    RH

  48. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "It feels awfully virtuous to put photovoltaic panels on the roof and watch the electricity meter run backwards.

    But Xcel Energy is warning solar customers in Colorado not to be quite so smug.

    After all, their systems only work because they’re connected to the same creaky power grid that the rest of us rely on. That infrastructure is pricey to maintain. And Xcel believes that solar customers aren’t paying their fair share.

    So Xcel has asked state regulators for permission to impose a new fee on all customers who install solar systems after April 2010. The fee would be pegged to the home’s peak electricity consumption.

    Xcel estimates the average fee at less than $2 a month. But the utility acknowledges that some customers may pay more than $20 a month. That’s on top of the $6 to $7 a month that solar households in Colorado already pay to cover meter reading and billing costs."

    Ahh yes, how exactly do we calculate what is fair?

    RH

  49. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Or how about this for an upcoming paper by mathew Kahn? …"the gentrification effects of the California Coastal Boundary Zone regulation"

    RH

  50. Larry G Avatar

    it's a pretty simple concept. You cannot build something that will adversely affect the folks around you – without their permission.

    It does not matter what was true 100 years ago or a hundred years into the future.

    "By-Right" can and does change and so can anything that is theoretically permissible under a given by-right category – as many localities require special use permits for just about any activity that could conceivably be thought of as a potential impact to others.

    "by-right" does not mean one has an unfettered right irregardless of the impacts on those around the property.

    That's exactly where the preponderance of new special-use permit regs have come from – from folks who own property and intend to do with it what they want – even if it adversely affects others – on the mistaken premise that they have that "right".

    they may have… in the past.. before people recognized the potential for individual property development to adversely affect others.

    so now.. the simple aspect of increased density has been better recognized for the secondary and cumulative impacts to infrastructure from …increased density.

    and the denser a property is developed.. the more widespread and expensive are the infrastructure costs and the costs to mitigate those impacts.

    VDOT a good example of the recognition of these impacts to roads.. and now … you can no longer build what you want – you have to have a traffic study and approval from VDOT.

    Some folks might think that this kind of regulation is "stealing" but others do not – in fact – demand that such development not proceed until an actual plan for handling the increased traffic is in hand – and the money needed to build it – called proffers and impact fees.

    the idea that property owners have the right to build whatever they wish "by right" is a ludicrous concept that is pretty much rejected by virtually all property owners whose own property (including their finances) could be affected by unregulated land development.

  51. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    It's a pretty simple concept. You cannot build something that will adversely affect the folks around you and you EQUALLY cannot deny somone around you an activity that will adversely affect them.

    Either both parties have equal property rights which are equally protected or else one party is claiming superior rights and using the law to steal.

    That is a pretty simple concept of equality. It is proven to be numerically equivalent to the maximum total benefit at the lowest total cost.

    It is sad that you cannot understand or accept this simple, and well proven concept.

    Not only that, but your argument totally ignores the concept of scale. You count any adverse affect equally. The majority might enjoy and adverse affect of a dollar apiece while the minority might enjoy an adverse effect amounting to millions.

    The concept of max total benefit at lowest total cost suggests (as a gross simplification) that the majority with dollars worth of adverse effect would have to number over a million in order to FAIRLY deny one member a million dollar benefit.

    The situation in Seattle pretty well describes what happens when you plan is allowed to proceed unbridled: the haves have more and the have nots are shut out.

    What you describe is no different and no more civilized than the hummingbirds fighting over my feeders.

    RH

  52. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "By-Right" can and does change "

    Precisely my point.

    Lets at least be honest and not call them "by-rights".

    And let's recognize that when we change a by-right we have created an adverse affect on our neighbors who invested n property AND the rights promised with it.

    You claim we have no right to create any adverse affect on our neighbors, and this advere affect is included in that list…. I only claim that we have no right to create an adverse effect on our neighbors that is greater than they create for us.

    I think it is called fair and honest, as opposed to your plan, which is simply out and out stealing.

    RH

  53. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "By-Right" can and does change and so can anything that is theoretically permissible under a given by-right category – as many localities require special use permits for just about any activity that could conceivably be thought of as a potential impact to others."

    And it is largely complete and total B___S___. many localities have invented all sorst of non valued and subjective potential impacts, for the sole purpose of requiring special use permits—- which will most likely be denied.

    And all of these "special uses" are normal activities for creative and productive adults. But, like the hummingbirds at my feeders, we just don;t want someone else to have what we have.

    If a "by-right" changes and that negatively affects someone,then they should be compensated for the loss in value of their property, and they should be compensaed by those whose proerty was enhanced by the restrictions.

    We have seen that in Seattle that enhancement equalled more than $200,000 per home. So if 20 neighbors want to deny someone else a $200,000 benefit they ought to easily be able to chip in $9500 an dchange and then everyone winds up with an equal benefit of $190,000 +.

    If the neighbors are not willing to do that, then each of them is stealing $9500 from the neighbor who once had equal property rights but now winds up with nothing.

    But, what the heck, as long as they have more votes, and more power why shouldn't they claim he has NO RIGHT to affect them adversely?

    Because it is wrong, that's why. It is stealing.

    RH

  54. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "…and the denser a property is developed.. the more widespread and expensive are the infrastructure costs and the costs to mitigate those impacts."

    OOh, EMR is not going to like that. he would argue that you have more people to share the costs.

    RH

  55. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "the idea that property owners have the right to build whatever they wish "by right" is a ludicrous concept that is pretty much rejected by virtually all property owners whose own property …"

    By virtually all property owners who own property?

    that would be pretty much everyone except those that don't, right?

    You don't even see the self serrving selfinsh circular argumentation here?

    ——————-

    "the idea that property owners have the right to build whatever they wish "by right" is a ludicrous concept"

    Well, if you think by-rights can change at anytime without compensation, why not include by rights that have been used and "grandfathered" then?

    What is the difference between taking value out of property that is built and taking value out of propety that is not built?

    You think it would be ludicrous when a committee of your neighbors come over and explain that they are going to reduce your negative impact on them by revoking you occupancy permit?

    You think that is ludicrous? Your occupancy permit gives you the by-right to live in your home, but as you say, those by-rights can change at any time? All somebody has to do is gin up a new externality to be protected against.

    So you tell me what is the conceptual difference between taking a million dollars of value out of my property and taking a million dollars worth of value out of your house?

    There is none, because my dollars have the same value as your dollars, and I have the same right to be protected against your predation as you have against mine.

    I'll tell you what is ludicrous: the idea that your property has more rights than mine just because you got there first. The idea that your existing property deserves protection and my property and my investent doesn't, just becauue it isn't built yet.

    That property owner isn't going to build wherever he wishes: he is only going to build where he bought the property that, ostensibly, had the rights.

    When the county records that sale they should record the rights that go with it, and they frequently do. But whther tose rights are recorded as part of the deed or not they represent promises made, and revoking those valuable promises without compensation is stealing.

    We use thhe me first rule when we both arrive at an intersection or lunch counter, but we both get to use the intersection in turn.

    You don't get to close my side of the intersection and give yourself exlcusive rights to the street just because I'm causing you some adverse traffic effect. And the reason is tht you don't own the intersection.

    RH

  56. Larry G Avatar

    need to better define "by right".

    the "by right" to enjoy the use of your property which includes occupying it (per local regs) is different from the "by right" … development rights.

    a reg that allows garages would allow ANY property owner to build that garage according to the regs.

    that's different from the "right" to subdivide the property or to use it for something different than what it was approved for originally.

    we need to differentiate between "property rights" and "development rights".

    a "property right" is the right to enjoy the use of your property provided it is approved for all property owners and it does not adversely affect other property owners in general.

    the "right" to develop property in such a way that it will have an impact on the existing available infrastructure – and other properties is not a "property right" but instead a limited – and changeable right.

    for instance, you may own property that formerly was approved for use for one unit per acre but now you want to put a 32-unit apartment on it – but the water/sewer system in that area was sized for one unit per acre use.

    The "availability" of water/sewer infrastructure would certainly be …not a "right".

    As a property owner – your "right" is for ONE water/sewer connection provided you pay for it.

    Beyond that… is not a "right" unless you have an approved plat that grants you that right – called "vested".

  57. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    we need to differentiate between "property rights" and "development rights".

    Why?

    If a right has monetary value attached to it, why does it make a difference whether it is a garage or a daughter-in-law home? If either right is taken away, presumably that happens because it benefits society somehow. Society should expect to pay for the benefits it gets when the benefits cause adverse effects to other people.

    Now, suppose you have the right to build a garage, and you have the same size lot as your neighbor, but your lot is a different shape.

    The county then changes the setback rules, and because of the shape of your lot, you lose your garage, and your neighbor doesn't. Even worse, there is another lot in the subdivision, same shape as yours, and that neighbor put up his garage last month.

    All three of you are in the military, and you get re-assigned, so the houses go up for sale. Which owner gets the most for his home? The guy with the garage gets the most, the guy with the right to a garge gets the next, and the guy who lost his garage gets the least.

    But everybody else in the county presumably gets a tiny incremental increase in their property value, otherwise there is no reason to make the setback change. The county gets an incremental (and free) increase in open space because there are a lot of lots that lose development rights becaus of the setback change. (My brother lost the right to two houses this way, which set his potential net worth back well over a million dollars.) The county gets a little more runoff protection, better sight lines on the corners, preserves room for future sidewalks and bike trails, and who knows what other benefits.

    All free, no cost.

    Except for a handfull of residents like my brother. The county basically stole all the benefits they got from a few people.

    But, you are right we do need to better define what property rights are, and we need to better protect them, and that is exactly what I have been saying when I claim we need more property rights (more kinds of property rights) not fewer.

    Because when they are properly defined and properly protected we will wind up with a better enviromental situation, not a worse one. And we will do it at lower cost, and a cost that is more fairly distributed.

    Once you understand this, you will see that the entire environmental movement is about property rights: property rights that are not defined, not priced, previously unclaimed or un-owned, but now suddenly valuable and subject to conflicting claims. It is a virtual range war.

    Society should expect to pay for the benefits it gets when the benefits cause adverse effects to other people. as you say, we don't have any right to cause adverse effects to other people's property. We already know we don't have the right to take property for public use without compensation, but now we need better definitions of what constitutes valuable property.

    Presumbaly the county would not change the setback rules unless there was significant public benefit. But as we have seen that benefit comes at a cost to somemembers of the same public. If he winners don't have enough new value in their benefits to pay off the losers, then there is no net benefit, and the rules should not have been changed.

    But if the net benefits are positive, the winners gain more than the losers lose, and if the winners refuse to pay for the adverse effects they caused, then they are stealing.

    Why is that so hard to see?

    I'll concede that in the practical world it might be difficult to calculate, but before we can even attempt to solve that problem, we need to agree on the basic principles.

    RH

  58. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I know a guy who rebuids engines in his home garage. He has a thriving part time business, but it is strictly illegal. He has been doing this for decades, and apparently his neighbors have never complained.

    If the county ever shuts him down, his part time business probably would not support the rent of a space in a commercial area, which he would have to commute to anyway.

    Are there benefits to the kind of laws he is violating? Yes.

    Is there benefit to letting him continue his hobby/job? Yes.

    Evidently, his immediate neighbors don't care one way or the other about his activities, or at least not strongly. Yet, someone at the other end of the county could claim some kind of "adverse effect", file a complaint, and shut him down.

    If the ONLY criteria is that he has "NO Right" to cause "anyone else" adverse effect, then he is out of luck and out of money, according to the law.

    If that is actually the way we are going to treat ourselves, then we need to have our collective head examined. On the other hand, if this guy had a bunch of cars with no engines sitting around and dead motor blocks, we have a right to protect ourselves.

    RH

  59. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "a "property right" is the right to enjoy the use of your property provided it is approved for all property owners and it does not adversely affect other property owners in general."

    Right away you are defining some property rights as superior to other property rights of the same or higher value. You are also putting a (potentially) small but general adverse effect to other owners above a large but personal benefit to one owner.

    RH

  60. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Ray, there are degrees of rights. An owner of preferred shares in a company, obviously, gets dividends and a right to assets upon liquidation ahead of common shareowners. A person may not have a right to claim the employer's match to a 401K account until those rights have vested over time.

    Why doesn't the same logic apply to real estate? I can make whatever use of my property as is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and the zoning ordinance. If I want to build or operate a commercial building, I can do so, only if such use is permitted by law. Similarly, to build a commercial building, I will likely be obligated to provide certain levels of parking and comply with any storm water storage requirements. Etc.

    If I want to have my property rezoned or a special exception, I may need to do something or pay something. But that's the same as if I want to own some stock in Apple. I don't just get to do it; I need to pay for the stock. If I can build ten units, but want to build 50 units on the same property, why is it unfair for me to pay for the added infrastructure costs that the additional 40 units will cause to be incurred? If I don't want to pay, I can build my ten units.

    You are, of course, correct in that a county can reduce the permitted density for an area, but not a a parcel-by-parcel basis. If, for example, a section of a town is zoned for half-acre lots, a county cannot lawfully take away those rights from one parcel owner, while leaving them intact for others.

    But the state supreme court has held that, during a comprehensive plan review, the county can decide that an entire area zoned for commercial would be too intense and downzone it to a less intense use. Like it or not, that's the law in Virginia.

    Fairfax County could decide, for example, that Tysons Corner cannot be expanded from 45 million square feet to 73 million square feet without overwhelming the infrastructure and what can be afforded. The county might decide that Tysons Corner can grow only to 60 million square feet and reduce FARs accordingly.

    There are limited property rights and limits on property rights for persona and real property.

    TMT

  61. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "There are limited property rights and limits on property rights for personal and real property. "

    The issue isn't so much whether there are limited prperty rights or limits on property rights.

    The issue is whether they get CHANGED without compensation.

    And that goes in either direction. Once we establish that as a basic code of conduct there will be a lot fewer issues such as with Tyson's.

    In the Tyson's case it seems pretty obvious that they are asking for new property rights over and above those previously agreed to.

    At the same time, conditions have changed. The county and community has new expectations as to what they want in someone else's property: Pedestrian Friendly, New Urban Development, Shared Public Spaces, Runoff Control, Crime Surveillance, etc.

    It is a huge project with vast ramifications, so who is getting what and who is paying for what is unclear. Especially if you have doubts about the integrity of government.

    But the basic issue is still the same and it is exemplified by your own example:

    "Ray, there are degrees of rights. An owner of preferred shares in a company, obviously, gets dividends and a right to assets upon liquidation ahead of common shareowners."

    The owner of preferred shares knows ahead of timw what he is getting an he makes his purchase and eveluates the worth of his purchase based on what is promised.

    The company does NOT have the right to unilaterally change the terms of his ownership: convert preferred to common shares, for example. that might happen by ageement, but htere would be compensation involved.

    We keep saying we want government to work more like business, so government should start acting more like business by obeying simple and commonly understood values: pay for what you get, and get what you pay for.

    Had we made it clear from the get go that Tysons was only planned for X and only X was allowed, then the Tysons owners would have made their purchases accordingly. Or if we said only X is allowed except for ABCDE and F which have the following price tags (per sqaure foot, office and residential population, and expected car trips). Then we would not be having this protracted and wasteful argument.

    What we need is names for ABCDE and F and price tags. More property rights, in other words.

    Suppose you buy a car registration with the expectation or express promise that it is good for the whole state. THEN, the state comes out with a new reg that says thge registration for anyone whose number ends in 7 is only valid for his home county. Presumably the rest of the state would get some benefit from this, or there is no reason for the reg. You should be entitled to a partial refund on your tag fee, the cost of which would be absorbed by everyone else with unrestricted tags. Either the winners pay the losers or the losers are being robbed: it is that simple.

    What Larry is suggesting is he gets to buy or build a house and keep his property regardless, but the guy who buys a vacant lot with building rights doesn't get to keep his property. He is OK with the losers being robbed because he assumes he has a "better" property right. But in the end, property comes down to dollars and all dollars are equal, so all property rights must be equal.

    I can't understand how normal honest people ever allowed such a double standard to become pervasive. I suppose all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing.

    All I'm saying is that if you think it is OK for property rights to be subject to change, then watch out: your occupancy permit could be next. I have no doubt, for example, that if EMR had enough power and votes behind him, he would revoke all the occupancy permits in non-urban areas (Except for PEC members and subsistence farmers).

    RH

  62. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "If I can build ten units, but want to build 50 units on the same property, why is it unfair for me to pay for the added infrastructure costs that the additional 40 units will cause to be incurred? If I don't want to pay, I can build my ten units."

    I don't have any problem with that.

    Now suppose you pay for a lot with ten units promised and then Larry and Compnay come along and say we have the perfect right to change yur property rights and your ten units are now zero?

    Shouldn't you be compensated for less, same as you would expect to compensate for more?

    How about if you are still allowed to build the ten, but suddenly the county installs Seattle style rules, so now it takes three times as long and costs 30% more to build your ten units? Isn't that exactly the same as taking (some of) your property?

    RH

  63. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "…now it takes three times as long and costs 30% more to build your ten units? Isn't that exactly the same as taking (some of) your property?"

    This kind of behavior is particularly pernicious because the public gets no real value added out of it, unlike with development fees, proffers, etc.

    In this case, unlike the example with the auto registrations there are no real "winners" to help pay off the losers.

    Unless you put a high value on "public participation" for all the additional meetings etc. there is no net public benefit. But, you could easily test that by charging admission to the hearings, to find out how much the public really thinks public participation is worth.

    RH

  64. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "But the state supreme court has held that, during a comprehensive plan review, the county can decide that an entire area zoned for commercial would be too intense and downzone it to a less intense use. Like it or not, that's the law in Virginia."

    OK so it is legal to steal in Virginia then.

    After all, how would you really feel if you went out and bought commercial property, and then had its value cut in half before you even opened the doors of your new business? Answer honestly.

    I suggest it is time to change the law.

    If that happened to me, my next new business would be in some other state.

    But here is the deal on this: it is during comprehensive plan review, which usually only happens every 20years. Even so, somebody owns that property and now it is suddenly worth much less, the only queston is whther they bought it before or after the previous comprehensive plan: what were the conditions of their purchase?

    ————————–

    The county decided they wanted less intense commercial? EMR would love that. Did they then plan for more commercial land to make up for the lower intensity? Did the higher costs then drive busnesses to another county?

    RH

  65. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Fairfax County could decide, for example, that Tysons Corner cannot be expanded from 45 million square feet to 73 million square feet without overwhelming the infrastructure …"

    The county has the right to refuse any project that does not show a net public benefit. They can even refuse a project that DOES show a net public benefit, but why would they?

    The only way to find out is to go therough all the benefit and disbenfits we can think of and put prices on them all, and add it up. higher taxes might be a disbenefit, but not enough to keep the project from going forward.

    But the real question,as part of this conversation, is whether Fairfax county has the right to reduce Tyson's zoning from 45 million sq ft to 20 million, or even zero over time, like Fauquier did to me.

    Turn the whole place into a non-conforming use and wait for it to fall down, then turn it into a park, or a collection of nail salons and tanning parlors.

    And since we are allowed to change the zoning without compensation this would basically be free – no cost. We have more votes than them and they have NO RIGHT to cause us any adverse effect.

    Who cares if a handfull of owners are out a few billion, it is still free, no cost.

    Right?

    RH

  66. Larry G Avatar

    re: "taking away "by-right" without compensation.

    well.. if you did not pay anything to get an upzone then what are you bellyaching about?

    besides.. if you get upzoned.. are you not get preferential treatment compared to other property owners who did not get upzoned?

    how would you compensate them?

    here's the bottom line:

    you – as a property owner have the "right" to enjoy the use of your property as long as others around you do not complain about your uses.

    So you have the "legal" uses and you also have the not so legal uses and as long as you get along with your neighbors and be careful not to do things that will cause them grief.. they will probably let you alone….

    but enjoying your property as a owner is not the same as developing your property…

    using.. development means ..more intensive uses… that will affect others.. and will require publically-paid-for infrastructure.

    those things – you are not entitled to as your standard "property rights" IMHO.

    you can build all the purple martin bird houses you want on your property but you cannot house 1000 dogs… in most cases.

    Is this "stealing" your rights?

    are other property owners.. the Supreme Court.. that "mob" … "stealing" from you if they will not allow you to have 1000 dogs on your property or to sell it to someone else who wants to put 1000 dogs on it?

    ridiculous?

    yup.. any claim of "superior" property rights .. and "stealing" .. IS …ridiculous…ludicrous and downright wrong…

    your rights END at my property line guy. end of story.

    just because some guy before you managed to pull it off does not give you the same right.

    In fact.. for each guy that pulls it off before you.. the rest of us receive "lessons learned".. such that those things that should not have been allowed.. in the first place.. are not… later on.

    there are no inviolate property rights that were bequeathed by some unknown person …long ago.. just like there is no fairy that leaves quarters under your pillow but later on.. kids who were expecting quarters also ..were "gypped" out of their quarters.. "stolen" from them…

  67. Larry G Avatar

    Ray – you keep saying that it is wrong/stealing to take away something you used to have a right to…

    this happens ALL the time.

    Laws and regs change and something you used to be able to do – you no longer can do.

    you used to be able to park junk cars on your own property – that used to be a 'right' then that 'right' was revoked – not just for you but for everyone in the jurisdiction – whether they had junk cars on their property ..or did not but were comptemplating it.

    The various allowed uses of land are "rights" but our system of laws and regs allows those rights to be changed and altered per – not some dictators whim but per our system for making laws and regs – ultimately through a process where voters can decide if they agree with those laws – or not.

    Laws are overturned… sometimes by the same folks who made them – as in the case of some of the provisions of 3202.

    but no where in this continuum of our system – does it say that land-use laws cannot be changed, and, in fact, the State and Counties have the right to do it – as long as the changes apply to everyone – and not just selected folks.

    Here's where I might agree with you.

    If a locality "upzoned" an area but the affected people had to actually pay to take advantage of the upzoning – then if it was later downzoned – then yes.. they would be owed compensation – a "refund" if you will.

    In a way.. this is how it "works" when a locality chooses to invest in water/sewer in SOME areas but not others – usually an expansion of an existing system – where the decision about how much to expand is determined not just by arbitrary line-drawing.. but cost … and terrain… watershed boundaries and other logistics.

    And when they do invest in additional infrastructure – the size of the pipes is also not some arbitrary decision. It is based on the intended ultimate density of the area that will be served – and a pipe for one unit per acre density will be a much smaller – and cheaper – pipe than one designed to serve a 30 story apartment complex.

    More likely… when such decisions are made – for an area – the predicted build-out density will be based not on the whole area being 30-story apartment complexes but mixed uses… and if someone comes in a builds a sufficient sized apartment complex.. there may not be any more availability after that one is built and so they would reject future applications for such density – unless the applicant – had a viable plan for expanding the water/sewer – AND other infrastructure LIKE water&sewer – roads, libraries, etc…

    so localities do not rezone with an opened-ended plan for density.

    They have to commit – ahead of time – to the size and scale of the infrastructure – and they have to build it with public monies.

  68. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    well.. if you did not pay anything to get an upzone then what are you bellyaching about?

    By that, you mean an upzone the reverses one of the SIX downzones I have suffered—-without compensation?

    I'm not arguing for anything unfair here, just suggesting that we should not have a double standard for downzones vs upzones.

    If we are not willing to do that, then we ought to be willing to admit that we are stealing.

    RH

  69. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Ray – you keep saying that it is wrong/stealing to take away something you used to have a right to…

    this happens ALL the time."

    Stealing happens all the time.

    It is ALWAYS wrong.

    Are you actually suggesting that frequency makes it OK?

    RH

  70. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    if you get upzoned.. are you not get preferential treatment compared to other property owners who did not get upzoned?

    Not if I paid for it.

    On the other hand, if I get downzoned, while everyone who already owns (has developed) a home does not then plwase tell me who is getting preferential treatment.

    I can't understand why you insist on argining in favor of something that is obviously unfair.

    Why don't you just come out of the closet argue in favor of substantially downzoning Tyon's?

    Is it because you know they can afford better lawyers than I can? Because if you tried to pull on them what has happened to tens of thousands of others (including yourself), the law would get changed in favor of what is right and fair (by people who could care less)?

    RH

  71. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "If a locality "upzoned" an area but the affected people had to actually pay to take advantage of the upzoning – then if it was later downzoned – then yes.. they would be owed compensation – a "refund" if you will."

    And how is that any different from someone who pays taxes for decades or centuries to support other people's upzoning, only to have their own denied?

    So, I just picked up another Farm to mow. The owner is a well known national political figure. I'm going to pay him a fair price for his grass, which I will convert to hay and sell for a higher price to someone else.

    I'm willing to bet that he is not goig to make the payments on a $9.5 million dollar farm on what I'm going to pay him for grass.

    How much tax is he going to pay (Remember, dozens of organizations including county officials will tell you he is paying twce as much as he costs them) for how long before he comes to the same conclusion that Sheila Johnson did: "When you pay $9.5 million for a property you expect to be able to do something with it." or Roxanne Quimby "It's my property I can do what I want with it" (She turned it into a nature preserve).

    ——————-

    What has any of that got to do with the argument that someone who was previously "upzoned" and who purchased their property under that condition, and who is now "downzoned" should be compensated?

    You think that someopne now "downzoned" who gets upzoned should pay for the privilege, what really is the difference?

    RH

    Yeah,I know—he never had any rights to begin with, and we have more votes.

  72. Larry G Avatar

    Local Government has the right and the ability – by law and constitution – to determine land-use when it involves the use of publically-funded infrastructure.

    No one is "entitled" to some level of density if that density is dependent on infrastructure that is paid for by others.

    Determining "rights", like, for instance, whether or not you have the "right" to store junk cars on your property… or even park cars for a fee on your property.. making that determination is not "stealing" no more or less than any other "right" that has.. been changed, reduced, eliminated – over time by our system of governance.

    I don't advocate downzoning or upzoning Tysons or any other place as long as there is a process for determining the levels of service for the area and there is a plan to provide the sufficient infrastructure necessary to maintain a reasonable level of service.

    and that determination is not made by the property owners – as we all know – in virtually every case – the dollars required would affect their judgment – and we have ample experience indicating that if you leave these things up to the property owner that they will not provide adequate infrastructure.

    This is why we have others make that decision.

    In your view – it's "stealing" because we won't let every property owner develop their property to whatever density they want – and have others pay for the infrastructure.. because..in essence.. that's the way it used to be done…

    and you're entitled to the way it used to be done because such "rights" cannot be taken away…otherwise it's "stealing".

    Ray.. it's "stealing" when you come to me and tell me that I have to help pay for the water/sewer that you need to develop your property.

    You say I owe it to you.. therefore if I do not give it to you.. I am "stealing' from you.

    Can you not see just how convoluted this logic is?

    50 years ago, you could probably have put 1000 junk cars on your property.

    Today, you probably cannot.

    Simple Question:

    Have your "rights" to put junk cars on your property been "stolen"?

    yes or no.

  73. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "Local Government has the right and the ability – by law and constitution – to determine land-use when it involves the use of publically-funded infrastructure.

    No one is "entitled" to some level of density if that density is dependent on infrastructure that is paid for by others."

    Yes, Local government has thqat right. And they have an OBLIGATION to treat their residents fairly. they do not have the right to steal from some residents to make others better off.

    It is a proven fact that restrictive growth policies raise the value of existing residents homes.

    You are exactly right in saying that

    "No one is "entitled" to some level of density if that density is dependent on infrastructure that is paid for by others." but you are missing half the picture.

    It is EQUALLY TRUE, NO MORE AND NO LESS that no one is "entitled" so some (low) level of density if that densitiy is dependent on infrasturcture (vacant land and other amenities) that is paid for by others.

    Local government is NOT entitled to take property for public without compensation, that much is written in the Constitution. The only thing we don't agree on is what constitutes property and what constitutes public use.

    I maintain that if the county wants to put my property "in the attic" and preserve it for future generations, well, that is a public use, and they are free to buy the property for that use if they like.

    We cannot very well argue that it is "our" environment and then argue that individuals are responsible for "our" conservation.

    No matter how you dress it up, what you are really talking about is taking control of someones property without paying them for it, or for loss of value occasioned by your control.

    Assume that at some point in time a level of land use was greed to and published by the county as zoning and land use regulations.

    If some moron bought property in a residential neighborhood and wanted to open a truck stop there we would turn him down and tell him he should have studied the land use regs before he made his purchase.

    But, yet, by your argument, someone who DID study the regs can make his investment in good faith and STILL be turned down, with the argument NOW being, well land use regs don't mean anything because they are subject to change at any time.

    But, if that is the case then TMT is out of luck. The board can, if they choose, certify Tysons for a bajillion square feet, and he doesn't like it, he can work to get them fired, and the new board with equall impunity can turn the whole thing into a nonconforming use.

    That isn't fair and responsible government, it is mob run anarchy. when government writes the rules government should abide by them. And when government changes them (for the betterment of most citizens) they need to ensure that the full burden of cost doesn't fall on a few citizens.

    There is no reason government should not do this (except if they wish to steal), and every reason why they should.

    RH

  74. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "In your view – it's "stealing" because we won't let every property owner develop their property to whatever density they want "

    I never said that.

    It is stealing when we enhance the value of our properties at their expense.

    It is lying and stealing when we promise one thing and later take it away without compensation.

    It is suborning to entice investment under one set of rules and then change the rules to make that investment worthless.

    I believe we are obligated to let a property buyer develope to the extent allowed at the time of his purchase, because as keeper of the regulations and recorders of the deeds we are implicitly part of his transaction.

    If we later decide we want or need less development, that is not and should not be his problem to bear alone. We want more of something (lower average density) that he is providing, and we should expect to pay for it.

    Otherwise we are stealing.

    RH

  75. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "I don't advocate downzoning or upzoning Tysons or any other place as long as there is a process for determining the levels of service for the area and there is a plan to provide the sufficient infrastructure necessary to maintain a reasonable level of service."

    Whether you advocate upzoning or downzoning or not, the fact remains that it does happen. It is hypocritical of us to complain about the cost of upzoning while ignoring the costs of downzoning.

    "…and there is a plan to provide the sufficient infrastructure…"?

    Well, what kind of plan is it when the plan basically says you are frozen forever, and we are not providing anything.

  76. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    50 years ago, you could probably have put 1000 junk cars on your property.

    Today, you probably cannot.

    Simple Question:

    Have your "rights" to put junk cars on your property been "stolen"?

    yes or no.

    If I had the rights then, and I do not now, and if those rights had monetaary value, and if other people are better off because I am worse off, then yes, those rights were stolen.

    ——————–

    Now, suppose I have actually got those junk cars and I die without heirs. My neighbors decide they will be better off if those cars go away.

    Who is going to pay for it? Not me, I'm dead and I'm not going to be any better off.

    Now suppose I'm not dead. What differencewould it make? I'm still not the one who is going to be better off. I have the right to have the cars there, and I was given that right by the county. You think that just because times have changed and they revoke that right that I am going to haul them away at my expense?

    It would be exactly the same as if they revoked your occupancy permit. It would be wrong and unreasonable without some compensation. it is JUST as wrong to reduce development rights without compensation: all you are doing is revoking the occupancy permit in advance instead of after the fact, but it is just as wrong.

    Without compensation, it is stealing.

    RH

  77. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "it's "stealing" when you come to me and tell me that I have to help pay for the water/sewer that you need to develop your property."

    OK, by that logic, all taxes are stealing. If you tell me I cannot develop my (formerly developable) property so that you can enjoy more wealth and more open space at my expnese, that is a tax that is paid in my open space that you do not have. by your own logic that is stealing, so you must agree with me.

    The problem in your argument lies in the word help. Because I have also been helping other people get their water and sewer, their streets and their schools.

    Suddenly, they get a voting majority and cut me off from development rights they used and I helped pay for.

    That is stealing. It is stealing when you demand more help than you are willing to give back. And that is exactly what that cost benefit equation says: when you rbenefits are greater than your cost, and my costs are more than my benefits, then you are stealing from me.

    AND VICE VERSA. Your half of the argument is correct half of the time. My argument recognizes both sides and it is ALWAYS correct.

    There isn't any way it can be wrong without also being inequitable.

    RH

  78. Larry G Avatar

    " You think that just because times have changed and they revoke that right that I am going to haul them away at my expense?"

    they'd haul them away – at taxpayer expense – and then prevent others from doing it in the future.

    that's the deal.

    you're saying that when they take away those rights from others that they're stealing.

    they're saying that if ..ultimately other taxpayers have to pick up the cost – that THAT's .. ALSO stealing so they preemptively stop it.

  79. Larry G Avatar

    " It is lying and stealing when we promise one thing and later take it away without compensation."

    not if that right is stated this way. "It is a "right" ..right now. It could change.

    In the future, it might be decided that it is no longer a right.

    so you see.. Ray.. no "right" is necessarily forever…they are all subject to change – based on the circumstances.

    this is exactly how – one day you can put junk cars on your property and 10 years later you cannot.

    the law never stated that – for all time eternal.. everyone has the right to put junk cars on their property.

    that's where you have this wrong.

    you're interpreting a "right" as a forever thing.. and it is not.

    It is contingent on a number of things that relate to the public interest… the interests of ALL property owners…

    and that's why I say your rights end at your property line.. and once the things you do on your property affect others..that you are subject to having your rights changed… or revoked…

    the cost-benefit you refer to would be fine if someone had the absolute truth and all parties involved agreed.

    but that's not the reality.

    when enough people think they have paid too much for others water/sewer – they vote to stop paying… in the future and let the folks who want water/sewer pay for it.

    this process is accelerated in areas where high growth ends up costing the existing residents higher and higher taxes to pay for it.

    at some point – they elect someone who will agree to stop increasing their taxes to pay for growth and force the folks causing the growth to pay more of their own costs.

    that's the way it works guy.

    you'd be in that same group.. if every year they raised your taxes to pay for increasing growth.. you'd be the first in line saying "enough"!

    It's like I said many times before.

    For most folks.. if their quality of life – the levels of service stay reasonable and don't degrade … and at the same time their taxes don't go up "too much".. they'll carp a little but not much else.

    but when growth accelerates.. and their quality of life deteriorates markedly and/or taxes are increasing to pay for the growth – they vote.

    and it's up to the BOS to either find an acceptable middle ground – or be replaced with others who will take a harder line on the growth.

  80. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    " they are all subject to change – based on the circumstances."

    jesus god almighty…..

    You have a right only so long as you have the power to enforce it. Under Chinese law you had the "right" to overthrow the Emperor – written into law – except of course you needed the power to enforce it.

    That's why they had a feudal system and we have a rule of law. It is why we have laws that say what the circumstances are that you may change a right.

    The law says, for example, that when property is taken for public use, you must be compensated. The law also says that this law may only be chnaged under certain circumstances (ratified by two thirds of the states, etc.)

    It is why we have laws that say, for example, you may not be overly protected from one kind of damage if it creates undue damage to someone else. This corresponds exactly to GAO policy that says there is no reason to create a law in the first place unless it creates a net public benefit. In turn, this is why every president since Eisenhower has endorsed the use of cost benefit analyses.

    So, because it is so difficult to change certain laws, we get around it by "interpreting" them to mean what we want them to mean. And the result is things like "Kelo vs New London"

    What you are suggesting is that we can create a "contract" and then allow one party (government) to change the terms of the contract unilaterally.

    The case of Lucas vs South Carolina Coastal Commission put that idea to rest. In that case South carolina wrote a bill that deliberately withheld any provision for variances for landowners who could not develop any previously platted lots. David Lucas had in 1986, long before the new legislation (1988) purchased the last tow undeveloped lots ina gated community for $975,000. the new legislation made his investment substantially worthless, but the existing beachside homes were unaffected.

    The value of his property was wiped out, while his neighbors bore none of the burden. A south Carolina trial court hels that the state had taken the property of Lucas and ordered Restitution on the order of $1.2 million.

    This got to the South Carolina Supreme Court on the narrow issue of whehter ALL of his value had been wiped out: he could still picnic, swim, and walk on the beach, after all. But since the beach istelf was public, everyone had those rights.

    In the meantime the South Carolina legislature realized it had made an error and corrected the law in favor of people with prexisting veted interests, like Lucas.

    But the Cupreme court found that even though Mr. Lucas' loss was total, not compensation was due, anyway. That is because, as you have argued, if a law is intended to prevent a nuisance like harm to the public, then compensation is never made, even though the loss be total.

    So, we have made an end run around the requirement that we pay for property taken for public use, as long as the public use is to prevent a public nuisance. In this case the public nuisance was loss of dunes on two remaining lots een though all the other lots in the area had been developed.

    The nuisace argument may be a sensible rule, but it begs the question,as we have argued here, who decides what a nuisance is. If the findings of a legislative body trump every other source, then it will not be long before legislatures figure out that they can dispense with payment for open space by declaring development to be a nuisance.

    The federal Supreme Court REVERSED the finding of the state supreme court and held that a total elimination of value without compensation had to be supported by something more than the legislatures declaration of harm.

    RH

  81. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "…not if that right is stated this way. "It is a "right" ..right now. It could change. "

    Precisely. And if I knew that I might not have a right I was paying for, I would propbably pay a lot less for it, or invest less in protecting it along the way. Or develop it sooner, so as to protect my rights that way: join the ruliing class that has already exercized its rights.

    What this says is exactly what I have said all along: we need better and more proerty rights, meaning that they are better defined.

    In the Lucas case, nowhere did the state or county say that his building lots might become worthless. The county took his tax money and recorded his deeds, as is, and they have an obligation to protect his property not steal it. i fthey do tak it they have an obligation to pay for it.

    the Supreme Court ruling has reulted in a land office business in making sure that SOME small value is left to the owner when regulatory takings are planned. it is a sleazy attempt at obeying the letter of the law as currently interpreted while ignoring the foundation on which it is built.

    In short, it is stealing. the Supreme court has already held that the rights of Lucas had to be upheld, in spite of laws deliberately passed with the express design of taking them away.

    In short, rights are subject to change: but when monetary damage occurs compensation is required. That is the law, backed up by a supreme court ruling.

    But, so far, it only applies to a total loss of value. The supreme court has yet to rule on the bundle of sicks argument, although the bundle of sticks idea is the courts own.

    If property is a bundle of sticks, as the court has held, and if all of the value of one of my sticks is subject to a regulatory taking, then why should I not be compensated for it?

    The only reason this hasn't made it to the court is that those in favor of doing the taking want to keepp the status quo, and not see theier argumets weakened.

    Ultimately you are correct, we can enact all sorts of laws to enable unfairness and havoc. We can eliminate all rights: we can pass laws to make legal stealing, rape, and genocide, but they will still be stealing rape and genocide.

    Practically speaking there is no reason to, because we have no expectation that we would be better off: there is no net public value. I don't see how you can make the argument you make and think society will be better off for it.

    RH

  82. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    "they'd haul them away – at taxpayer expense – and then prevent others from doing it in the future."

    Yes, but they would not revoke my right to have put them there retroacively and make me pay to take them away. Practically speaking I probably couldn't do it.

    Instead, they would get what they want by paying for it themselves.

    They are, of course, dreaming if they think they canaovid costs by preventing others form doing operating dump sites in the future. Cars are going to be disposed of, and if they prohibit the creation of dump sites in their neighborhood then it is THEY who will absorb the cost of some other place or method.

    Which is what I have been saying right along: if you want a clean environment you should expect to pay for it.

    "…you're saying that when they take away those rights from others that they're stealing."

    I'm saying that if they made me a promise and I invested based on that promise then they are a) dishonest because they broke a promise, b) stealing, if they get a beenfit that I pay for, c)not doing their job, which is to protectec everyones property EQUALLY.

    If they don't want my dumpsite, they can buy it and clean it up themselves, and use it for any public purpose. THAT is in fact the law, which you propose we ignore, bend, and finagle just because it is supposedly for a good cause.

    Sorry, it is still stealing.

    We have an implicit contract which cannot be changed without compensation. there is no reason NOT to provide compensation as long as the benefits outweigh the costs. the way you decide if the benefits outweigh the costs is to put a price on them, and then see if those in favor of benefits still want them.

    This doesn;t meant that polluters or develoers get away scott free, but it does mean their property deserves the same protection as yours, no more, and no less. Your property deserves the same protection as theirs, no more, no less.

    If you make a claim for more protection than they get, the ONLY reason for that must be to make it easier to steal from them.

    RH

  83. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    The analogy to use here is the football game. If you are a defensive lineman and you stop a ball carrier at the line of scrimmage, you have both done your job. But if you push him backwards, you are no longer playing defense: you are playing offense.

    In football, this is all about taking advantage and winning with speed and power.

    But government policy is about treating everyone equally, fairly, and honestly. If you grant one side a rule that allows them an OVERLY protective defensive advantage, then that is equivalent to offense, and it then becomes stealing.

    RH

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