Air Date: Week of November 10, 1995
CURWOOD: How would you have voted in the Washington State Referendum if you'd had the chance? Two weeks ago we asked our listeners just that question, and today, in the wake of the official vote, we have the results of our own highly unscientific survey. Twenty-four of you favored the measure and 92 were against. That's about 80% opposed, compared to the actual vote of 60% opposed. Sally Bell, a listener to Maine Public Broadcasting, was among our no voters.
BELL: I think that the public has a right to clean water and clean air and sometimes that takes precedence. Real estate has never been a guaranteed right to a profit.
CURWOOD: And David Ford, a listener to WHYY in Philadelphia, thought things could go too far if such sweeping property rights laws were passed.
FORD: An individual can build a development that destroys the aquifer for a whole town, but that individual owes nothing to the community for taking away their clean water. Instead, the town owes him if they want to ensure a long-term supply of clean water. This allows individuals to blackmail communities. They can plan to build huge polluting enterprises and then blackmail the community for so-called just compensation.
TAMLIN: My name is Edward Tamlin. I listen to station KQED in San Francisco. It's not fair for these landowners to want compensation when the government does something to decrease the value of the land, and not be willing to pay back the community when the city or state does things which raise the value of their land. After all, these improvements are paid for by taxpayer money. I'm thinking of things like zoning or building hospitals or roads, putting in libraries, increasing police force. All of these things raise the value of land.
CURWOOD: But more than 20% of you supported the referendum.
WELLS: My name is Steve Wells; I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. And I do support compensation of property owners. If we all benefit from environmental regulation then we should share in the losses that go along with it.
CURWOOD: Finally, this listener to KUT in Austin, Texas, offered a compromise.
CALLER: I don't think that the government should have to pay the landowner for devalued land, but I certainly think that people who set aside their land for nature conservation should get a significant tax reduction. And that would encourage people to set aside land rather than discouraging them.
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