- A hurricane of a property rights bill that officials feared would take away their control over zoning and planning matters has been weakened. But it could still bankrupt some Texas cities and prevent others from controlling their growth, opponents say.
The bill, approved by the House, would require cities to compensate property owners whose land values are eroded by city regulations. For example, if a property owner buys an acre of land in Dallas but is restricted to building only on a portion of the property, the city would have to compensate the owner for the lost value of the land.
And despite amendments that clarify the bill's intention, city officials still worry that the legislation could hinder their ability to develop comprehensive plans and that it could carry potential hidden disasters.
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The battle now moves to the Senate, where the rhetoric about the bill is escalating, and the bill could be approved by a Senate committee this week.
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The bill's House author, Rep. Robby Cook, D-Eagle Pass, said the proposal was aimed at curbing the effect on property owners of Austin's Save Our Springs water quality ordinance – an initiative approved by voters in 1992 to limit development and curb pollution in the Barton Springs Watershed – and similar regulations.
"It's a backdoor way to take your property," Mr. Cook said of such legislation. "It's really designed to stop development."
He said the bill would simply protect landowners from cities that essentially "take" their property through regulations and don't compensate them for the loss. The proposal calls for such compensation when – through a regulation – a city limits the ability of a property owner to use less than 45 percent of the land.
Update on Texas Regulatory Takings Bill
Last week I wrote about a bill moving through the Texas House of Representatives that would force local governments to compensate landowners when strict land use regulations reduce property values (see here). House Bill 2833 passed the House on May 10th and is now under consideration in the Senate. According to the Dallas Morning News: