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Key counties reject property measure
Seattle Times staff reporter
Voters soundly defeated property-rights Initiative 933 Tuesday, rejecting sweeping new limits on government's power to regulate what landowners can do with their land.
I-933 was losing by landslide margins in some Puget Sound counties. It also was trailing in Spokane County and in some rural Eastern Washington counties, where it had been expected to fare the best.
"The voters showed they support laws that protect communities from irresponsible development and keep farmland in farming," said Aaron Ostrom, of the anti-sprawl and anti-933 group Futurewise.
Dan Wood of the Washington State Farm Bureau, I-933's sponsor, said the initiative lost because supporters were outspent. He also warned that if Gov. Christine Gregoire and the state Legislature don't fix problems with growth-management regulations, "they may have to face this again."
I-933 would have required governments to compensate landowners for many existing rules that restrict what they can do with their property. The Farm Bureau began drafting the initiative shortly after Oregon voters approved a similar measure in 2004.
Opponents said I-933 was vaguely worded and would lead to regulatory chaos, expensive litigation and runaway development. They also said it would cost billions.
They built a coalition of environmentalists, labor, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, prominent business leaders, and Democrats and moderate Republicans. The opposition raised more than $3.7 million and spent most of it on TV ads to counteract what it said was I-933's favorable ballot title.
The pro-933 campaign raised less than $700,000 after the initiative qualified for the ballot, and had little left for advertising in the campaign's final weeks.
"We were outspent six to one," Wood said Tuesday night. "I think that's showing up in the numbers."
Realtors, builders and timber companies — all allies of the Farm Bureau in an unsuccessful bid to pass a similar property-rights initiative in 1995 — mostly stayed away from the I-933 campaign.
Measures similar to I-933 were passing in Arizona but losing in California and Idaho. Unlike I-933, they also proposed new limits on government's power to condemn property.
Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or email@example.com
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