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Giving Property Owners Their Day in Court

November 11, 2014

Thanks to a new law, property owners in Arizona can have their day in court. Gov. Jan Brewer’s ink on HB 2319 corrects a serious judicial error that made the court claim process so confusing that few lawyers – let alone property owners – could figure out how to seek compensation for loss of property value under Prop. 207.

Voters passed Arizona’s Proposition 207 by a 2-to-1 margin. The proposition required government to compensate property owners when government regulations reduced a property’s value. That’s great protection for property owners, but meaningless if it can’t be enforced in court.

Flagstaff property owner Paul Turner learned that the hard way when the city imposed new zoning rules on his neighborhood, making it impossible to develop his property as he had planned, and slashing his property’s value. But when he brought a Prop. 207 lawsuit for compensation, the court of appeals applied a new procedural obstacle. And because Turner had no prior notice of this procedure and had not complied, the court told him he was out of luck.

The court’s decision created a trap for the unwary. What’s worse, this extra step gave property owners only one year to bring a property rights claim, instead of the three that Prop. 207 originally provided.

The Goldwater Institute filed a brief in Mr. Turner’s case and drafted the legislation to remove the court-imposed procedural obstacle. This new law restores the Proposition 207 protections the voters put in place and ensures property owners like Paul Turner can have their day in court.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: Aspen 528 LLC v. Flagstaff

Arizona State Legislature: H.B. 2319 (PDF)



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