Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership. The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity. While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.
The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws. The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain. Stated below is the letter grade, as given by the Castle Coalition, along with a description of the changes that have occurred since Kelo v. City of New London.
House Bill 1458 was filed in response to a Washington State Supreme Court case in 2007 concerning eminent domain proceeding notification. The bill suggested that public meetings were vitally important in the condemnation process, and that notice for final condemnation proceedings must be given to the affected property owner; you could not rely on posted information from a public website. The bill additionally stated that the condemning authority must send via certified mail, and at least 15 days before the public meeting, the information regarding where and when the final meeting would be held.
Washington is still highly in need of significant legislative reform, and the state needs to see solutions that will solidify the rights that private property owners are guaranteed in the state. Significant issues, like private transfers for economic development and the term “blight” have yet to be addressed. When the state sees more positive legislative reform in this direction, property owners will secure protection.