The recent Washington State Supreme Court decision Hirst vs. W. Washington Growth Management Hearings Board (“Hirst”) opens a new offensive against individual property rights and common sense; and it continues the trend of legislative rule making by our Supreme Court, where the Justices have habitually strayed from their judicial role into the realm of policy making from the bench. The ruling is disastrous for property rights, and it is a crowning achievement of decades of subterfuge by Futurewise (the prime plaintiff in this case, even though they were listed last), who together with like-minded groups, champion never-ending aggression and control of citizens via centralized planning.
To quote from the dissent (written by Justice Stephens): “The majority’s decision hinges on an interpretation of RCW 19.27.097 that is unsupported by the plain language of the statute, precedent, or common sense.” Let’s review the case and how we got here.
What is the Hirst case about?
Water. For decades, various elements of Washington State’s environmental movement have expressed anger and resentment about the potential for people to build homes in rural or suburban settings. The battle-axe used to keep people in line has been, up until Hirst, the Growth Management Act (GMA), which was passed, appropriately, on April Fool’s Day, 1990. The GMA had three effects. First, it set up a system of order and control for housing and development. Second, it established a revenue generation system for local government to maintain and enforce control. Third, it provided attachment points for environmental groups to litigate in order to maintain and expand government control over the most basic needs of the masses (i.e., housing). Ostensibly, the GMA was to benefit individuals by preventing urban sprawl, but in reality, only government benefited via increased control, by the addition of new revenue streams, and by providing backdoors for the government’s environmental allies to beat down citizens ever more. The current litigation leader in Washington State is a corporate “non-profit” called Futurewise, which is a rebranded version of an earlier organization called 1000 Friends of Washington. Those who have suffered at the hands of this organization call it “Future Lies.”
One of the most significant, but subtle, aspects of the GMA is that it introduced a whole new logic for control – that the government could, and should, manage all aspects regarding the housing of the masses. Whole new government bureaucracies were built from the ground up on the backs of individuals, a system that affects every hill and dale throughout all municipalities in the state of Washington.
Now Hirst has done the same for water. It establishes an entirely new logic for government control over the most basic needs of the masses (i.e., water). You, as an individual, are no longer entitled to water unless you meet certain (virtually impossible to meet) conditions. Hirst affects all new wells and related development, and it may also affect existing wells and water users. Like the GMA, its effects will be felt in every nook and cranny of the state. Continue reading