Property Rights – California's Newest Endangered Species

Published: January 15, 2010

‘Property rights are rapidly becoming the newest endangered species in Ventura County’, according to a recent article in the Pacific Coast Business Times. A new fight is brewing for builders at a time when our decimated building industry can scarcely afford the battle. This one is being waged in LA and Ventura County over new storm water regulations.  According to  another article in the PCBT, while ‘the new regulations were approved last May, officials are just now trying to figure out how to implement them.’
Well how California is that? Let’s pass this mother and then figure out what we did and how to enforce it. Ready, fire, aim.

According to representatives of the Building Industry as well as private and public sector agencies, the regulatins as written would add million of dollars to the cost of projects on everything from housing to roads, schools, hospitals – you name it.In many cases these costs would produce very little, if any, tangible public benefit.

The reg’s would require anywhere from 75% to 90% of rainwater run-off to be captured on-site either through catch-basins or cisterns, on-site treatment facilities or having enough green space to allow for full evaporation with no run-off. If property owners can’t meet those requirements they would either pay a fee (ala cap & trade) or have to do similar work off-site. Builders, including many operating in the public sector, say these reg’s are simply another ‘nail in the coffin’ for developers.

To make matters worse, although the ordinance has been passed in Ventura for nearly a year, regulators are just now putting together a ‘guidance manual’ for builders. This has left builders in limbo since last May trying to figure out what the reg says and how to comply. As one builder put it, “I’ve simply had to stop all my projects for 6 months or more until they figure this out so I don’t risk being out of compliance.” Another, a builder of public roadways puts it more simply. “The notion that I could be fined if so much as a single Dixie cup of water gets into the harbor from the miles of roadways and ditches I build is very scary.”

Yes it is. But unfortunately not out of character for the talking heads in Sacramento who authored the legislation that allows local authorities to implement their own rules and mandates without benefit of oversight. As a BIA rep put it, ‘there’s a lot of unknowns for factories or anything with a big footprint that might have impervious surfaces like roofs or parking lots. Auto dealers, schools, even public utilities run the risk of being unable to comply without some potentially cost prohibitive measures. In today’s world of development, there is no margin so it doesn’t take much for something to become infeasible – so projects, including some much needed and long planned projects, will simply die.’

Well isn’t that the agenda? They’ve succeeded in shutting off the water tap to Southern California to benefit the Delta Smelt. We have chased our once-thriving furniture manufacturing industry to neighboring states – there’s only one left here today. Our last automobile manufacturer is pulling up stakes. Our industrial employers are decamping for greener pastures – literally greener pastures with fewer onerous regulations. Our high tech industries are moving to neighboring states that don’t boast about being the highest tax states in the country. And now what’s left of our building industry and development community that hasn’t already been laid to waste by the economy or unemployment are being targeted by additional shortsighted environmental regulation.

Did I mention they’re also threatening to fine us or put us in jail for simply having under-inflated tires? Yeah, I just wrote about that.

The lunatics have taken over the asylum – or in this case, the liberals have taken over the state. Same difference.

Of course that’s just my opinon. I could be wrong.


Last modified: January 15, 2010 at 6:54 am | Originally published: January 15, 2010 at 6:54 am
Printed: September 25, 2020