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Arizona Property Rights

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.

Arizona Castle Coalition letter grade of

arizona property rights

The Arizona State Legislature passed Proposition 207 in 2006, which significantly tightened the language of the term blight and thus providing additional protection for property owners. This was passed in response to the previously vetoed bill, House Bill 2675, which would have incorporated similar language regarding the definition of blight. Proposition 207 stated that clear evidence was necessary in order for an area to be declared blighted, and areas that were designated blighted must to be evaluated on a parcel by parcel basis.

After Proposition 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act (§ 12-1136) was passed, and this effectively narrowed the public use definition. This lessened the list of activities that could qualify as public use in the state, and in turn provided a significant amount of protection for property owners. The Act stated that general public activities must hold usage involving “possession, occupation and enjoyment of the land” (as stated in the Act), meaning that land could not be used solely for economic development. In addition, the state of Arizona now has heightened compensation requirements for private property owners affected by eminent domain, giving more protection for property owners, especially against economic developers.

Summary

The state of Arizona has taken significant measures in protecting its citizens, but making these changes as part of the state constitution would solidify their existence. Significantly tightening the definitions of blight and public use provides significant protection for property owners, as well as the safety of parcel by parcel deeming for blighted properties. Click to read more about the Private Property Rights Protection Act.

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