Land use initiative pushed by New York developer threaten the landscape of the West and taxpayer's pocket book

Idaho and a number of other states, including California and Washington are beset by a “property rightts” ballot initiative. Many stories have reported that the signature gathering was larged funded by New York developer Howard Rich. The initiative would basically outlaw zoning and other land use laws, and punch a huge hole in the budgets of the states if they try to regulate the uses of land.

It would never pass except that it is tied to a popular section, which is already law in Idaho. It has a Trojan Horse buried at the end. “‘They bait you with eminent domain, but you end up voting to destroy all land-use regulation,’ said Elaine Clegg, a nonpartisan member of the city council in Boise, Idaho.”

In a number of states the initiative has been kicked off the ballot because the signatures were gathered by paid signature gatherers (that’s legal) but the initiative was misrepresented and voters often tricked into signing it and other ballot intiatives. I know in Idaho it was even circulated at Earth Day celebrations, where people were told it was a land protection measure.

The way it is worded, I think it may pass. Few folks know that the eminent domain problem created by the Kelo case was taken care of.

Here is a story in the Washington Post. “Court Ruling Fuels Dispute in West Over Eminent Domain. Initiatives Challenge Land-Use Regulations.”

Here in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “$2.3 million pours into I-933. Two rival coalitions try to sway voters on land-use initiative.”

Now that the battle is on, in most of the states many are giving money to support it or fight it. The Farm Bureau seems to be a leading sponsor of the initiative of the Washington State I-933 initative (figures taken from the news story above), but as a comment below indicates this does not seem to be the case in Idaho.






  1. Jay Avatar

    Many indivdiual farmers are against Initiative 933 as development pressures would eliminate farming in their areas. Check out what one farmer did: cutting No 933 into his field.

  2. John Avatar

    Ralph – not sure where you got the idea that Farm Bureau is supportive of this proposition, but you are wrong. We supported eminent domain legislation passed by the Idaho Legislature last spring. There has been no expressed support for this measure from our organization, but thanks for the plug.

    Well, thank you. I was judging from the Washington Initiative. I will make the necessary changes. Ralph Maughan

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I wish there was this kind of opposition to Idaho’s version of I-933.

    Come next year, I won’t be surprised to hear folks in Idaho saying “why I never knew the initiative would cost us billions of dollars and prevent any controls on developers. I didn’t understand what the initiative was all about. It sure sounded good.”

    Of course that’s the idea, make it complex, but sound good.

    If there was a straight up vote on developers in Idaho, I think they would barely escape being shot. 😉


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan