Kitsap Alliance defends property owners’ rights.

Over the years, the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners has been the subject of numerous columns and letters, some of which imply that KAPO only looks out for the interests of a select group of people. This is unfortunate because KAPO is actually one of the few organizations that champions the rights of the entire community.

Our state constitution states: “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.” KAPO takes these words seriously and works hard to know what our government is doing and hold it accountable.

Our founders knew that the unencumbered ownership of property was essential to the well being of a free society. The underlying reason is that legal title to fully transferable property represents equity which is available for investment. This, in turn, creates wealth.

Amendment V of the United States Constitution says that: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” Article I, Section 16 of the Washington State Constitution says that: “No private property shall be taken or damaged for public or private use without just compensation having been first made.”

There have always been factions who do not understand these principles, who have advocated increased government control of private land for the “common good.” Over the last 40 years, this advocacy has become increasingly strident under the aegis of the environmental activist movement, who has worked to convince legislators that “sustainable development” is only possible if all of the land is strictly controlled under state, national, and international law.

One result has been “smart growth” legislation to “preserve” the rural areas. These regulations restrict or prevent use of property, and can destroy its equity value as effectively as the lack of title. There is no compensation to property owners for their loss. This is the crux of most of the current land use conflicts.

The argument that government is a better steward cannot be substantiated. The wealthiest countries take the best care of their environment and, as noted, the key to wealth is the unfettered ownership of private property. Indeed, property owners have a strong incentive to not harm the land, while government-controlled land becomes no one’s responsibility — a phenomena known as the Tragedy of the Commons. It may seem counterintuitive — but less so than the premise that more government control is the key to protecting our nation’s ecosystems.

When KAPO challenges “one-size-fits-all” regulations which prevent the use of private property, we do so with arguments based on sound scientific knowledge. These challenges are within the bounds of the Growth Management Act and other laws, and are simply designed to make local governments comply with the laws as written. A recent spate of state Supreme Court decisions appears to be in firm agreement.

Decide for yourself about KAPO. It might even be something you want to be a part of.

Bob Benze
KAPO Board of Directors