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for people who care about the West

Washington voters win vote on takings bill

  Washington residents will decide at the November polls whether to scrap their state's new takings law - considered the most extreme take on the subject to date. Volunteers fighting the law, known as Initiative 164, gathered more than 230,000 signatures before the July deadline. That's more than double the amount needed to force a referendum, says John Lamson, a staffer at the anti-initiative organization No on 164, who credits the success to thousands of volunteers. The initiative defines a "taking" broadly, as any regulation limiting the use or development of property for public benefit, other than those which protect against public nuisance (HCN, 5/29/95). Lamson says the law, which requires that new regulations undergo economic analysis and subsequent public comment on the findings, will result in higher taxes, more lawsuits and a roadblock for zoning. Foes of I-164 still have plenty of work; state polls show that if the election were held today, 60 percent of Washington residents would keep the law. And some say that a repeal of the initiative would be only a temporary victory: Republicans have already introduced a compromise bill for the next legislative session that defines a "takings' as property deprived of 25 percent of its value - rather than the present law's wording of "any" amount.

* Ben Jacklet