The Unprincipled Opposition to Kootenai County’s ULUC

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The Unprincipled Opposition to Kootenai County’s ULUC

Wow. I leave town and two weeks later, crazy takes over.

From relentlessly sunny Southern California, I noted the recent and growing uproar over Kootenai County’s land use code re-write. And from here, where the sprawl goes on and on and on for miles, the growing opposition to Kootenai County’s Unified Land Use Code (ULUC) project appears to be either pointlessly obstructionist or appallingly uninformed. Either way, if the opponents were truly interested in property rights and regulatory streamlining, they’d be supporting the County’s reform efforts.

Ignoring the completely nutty “U.N. Agenda 21” conspiracy theorists, the ULUC opposition appears to be based primarily in a “property rights” viewpoint that ignores both the law and the policy choices that guide modern land use across the country.  Despite the bluster coming from the usual North Idaho know-it-alls, “property rights” are simply not absolute. In fact, property rights of individuals are balanced to protect the property values in the community.

We don’t allow pig farms in downtown Coeur d’Alene — OMG! Regulations! — but there are obvious and legitimate reasons for this. The simple purpose of the ULUC is to provide a framework for land use fairness, where everyone — property owners AND their neighbors — have a codification of both their property rights AND their responsibilities, for everyone’s protection.

Unfortunately, opponents to the ULUC project are completely misunderstanding the problem. The county is required by state law to have certain land use regulations. Not having such regulations is not an option — and that is a battle being fought by the opposition that can’t be won.

More to the point, a huge problem is that the county is actually being crippled by a patchwork of land use regulations that dates back to the 1970s. Ask anyone: the system is hopelessly broken and it desperately needs to be fixed. ULUC opponents surely can’t defend the current system on property rights grounds. Yet, the opposition to the ULUC promotes the status quo. The reality is that property rights are far better protected under the ULUC proposals than under the current law.  The senseless, fact-free, and knee-jerk opposition to the ULUC actually works against their purported property rights cause.

In fact, if Kootenai County wants to be competitive in attracting business and development, if it wants to protect the landscape that make people want to live and work in North Idaho, and if it wants to make government more efficient, the ULUC is a modern necessity. Certainly, there is plenty of room for legitimate policy debate as the sections in the ULUC are drafted. However, the current wholesale opposition to the ULUC appears to be driven by either intellectual laziness or intellectual dishonesty. Neither is helpful.

 

By | 2012-07-02T13:04:23+00:00 July 2nd, 2012|Land Use|18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Bob Bingham July 3, 2012 at 9:58 am - Reply

    I’m sorry that kea has such a represetntive as the one above who is willing to malign a KC property owner such as myself who only found out about the ULUC last week a few hours before the cda library mtg.
    Your points …
    (1) either pointlessly obstructionist or appallingly uninformed. Could I add another if your way of governing will allow? ** How about now that I know regualtions are being created which will affect my land, I’d indeed like to be part of the process. Now that I know, I’m reading thru them over the coming weeks.
    (2) Either way, if the opponents were truly interested in property rights and regulatory streamlining, they’d be supporting the County’s reform efforts. ** I’d support codes reform, but I was told that establishing a group of property owners to whom this will affect, will not be permitted. Thus, without a significant voice from those to whom the proposed reg’s will be implimented upon, I joined with other voices to object. I ask, why not hear from we the peoperty owners to which the ULUC will apply?
    (3) Ignoring the completely nutty “U.N. Agenda 21″ conspiracy theorists ** I had never heard of Agneda 21 until the night of this mtg, …… I’m just a property owner, but I did find it on the UN website, http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/ the it appears the “nuts” are talking about something your not aware of?
    (4) the ULUC opposition appears to be based primarily in a “property rights” viewpoint that ignores both the law and the policy choices that guide modern land use across the country. ** I’m not a lawyer, but from the sounds of it you are, so you could be right, but I had the opinion that the ULUC will create law (regulations) to which I would be compelled to comply with. As such, my input would be helping establish what law will be would it not? And since ours is government for the people, by the people, I figure I’m allowed to participate????

    I could respond further point by point to your post, but I have no desire to malign the way you feel, you are entitled to your opinion, yet I disagree with your apraisal of who we are that object ….. I prefer dialog with people who can respect each others opinions, obviously I already have your opinion of me.

    I’m just a KC property owner (I’m not part of any group, but I will likely be soon as I will begin to support getting my voice heard in any fashion I can) and it appears it makes you feel better to malign me in becoming involved in the process, a process I think our government was founded upon.

    The KC consultant said these proposed regulations will only apply to county landowners, as I said when I spoke at the cda library mtg, the county gets a hold of me 2x per year when they want my property tax money, why didn’t they notify me when all this started? If it applies to me, I should know about it. To do otherwise is to raise a lot of concern about what might be going on behind closed doors.

    My name is Bob Bingham, I live in Athol

    • Terry July 3, 2012 at 11:38 am - Reply

      Bob,

      I appreciate your involvement — your property rights are worth defending. I don’t mean to “malign” anyone, but if you’re going to speak out against something, you also have a duty to understand the proposal, and understand the context. So far, the generalized opposition to the ULUC has failed to provide legitimate substantive concerns.

  2. Charles July 6, 2012 at 9:15 am - Reply

    I am not opposed to reforming broken policies or practices, no one is, but to imply that there is not a concerted effort in the US to impose the UN sustainable development agenda, or that it will impact property owner rights, their property values, or is not ultimately responsible for a redistricting of the country, or that anyone who points that fact out during a process like this that is is so germane to that reality is nutty, well that either it is a result of extreme naivety, or intentional prejudice.

    Why are the folks who support the new plan always referred to do more research or homework on the plan, when it is you that needs to do the homework into Agenda 21 and what that means for all of us.

    The UN’s Agenda 21 is real; https://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/
    ICLEI is real; http://www.iclei.org/index.php?id=about

    And the havoc it is reaping on America as it was envisioned by the founders is real.

    I know what the plan says thus far, do you know what Agenda 21 is/says?

    • Terry July 6, 2012 at 9:41 am - Reply

      The UN’s Agenda 21 is what it is. I am familiar with it. But to say that it is the force driving things in North Idaho is, indeed, nutty.

      Idaho is as red-state as it gets, and yet there are state laws that require land use planning that pre-date the so-called Agenda 21 by decades. Kootenai County has been led by Republican county commissioners throughout the entire comp plan / code-writing process, and yet the process moves forward. The reality is that land use planning is a reasonable and necessary thing to do at the state and local level — for economic development and for resource protection. There are no black helicopters flying around forcing Kootenai County to do the right thing.

      • Charles July 6, 2012 at 10:11 am - Reply

        (“The UN’s Agenda 21 is what it is. I am familiar with it. But to say that it is the force driving things in North Idaho is, indeed, nutty.”)

        Yes, it is what it is, and that is precisely why you should have a better understanding of it than just to make vague off the cuff comments about it.

        Truth be told Terry, it is indeed one of the primary drivers in what North Idaho, and the country at large will look like on many levels.

        (“Idaho is as red-state as it gets, and yet there are state laws that require land use planning that pre-date the so-called Agenda 21 by decades.”)

        Yes, it is, aren’t you interested in keeping it that way?

        (“Kootenai County has been led by Republican county commissioners throughout the entire comp plan / code-writing process, and yet the process moves forward. The reality is that land use planning is a reasonable and necessary thing to do at the state and local level — for economic development and for resource protection.”)

        As I said in my previous post, no reasonable person opposes fixing whats broken, but why the need for such broad strokes? Are you not the least bit interested in ensuring that any of this does not happen? Wouldn’t a reasonable person on your side of this want to have a full grasp of ALL the facts, and not just an understanding of plan and an open mindedness for government regulation.

        (“There are no black helicopters flying around forcing Kootenai County to do the right thing.”)

        Why the silly conspiracy theory, tin foil hat comments Terry, is that really necessary?

        I am an educated, relatively prosperous person myself, a business owner, and I care about our environment. Yet after considering all the information at my disposal thus far I do have concerns, I would hope you would be as well.

        Oh BTW – http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2012/06/04/the-age-of-drones-military-may-be-using-drones-in-us-to-help-police/

        But maybe the folks over at CBS News are just nutty… Just say’in.

        • Terry July 6, 2012 at 11:10 am - Reply

          I’m sorry, and I’ll have a lot more to say about all of this soon, but it IS tin-foil-hat nutty. And it’s distracting from the real issues with the land use code.
          You SAY no reasonable person objects to fixing what’s broken, but the ULUC is doing just that. You refer to “such broad strokes” but provide no specifics.
          By using “Agenda 21” as an international bogeyman, you simply distract from the real issues facing the county. It’s okay to disagree on the ULUC substance — and there ARE legitimate policy concerns to be discussed — but nobody is doing that.

          • Charles July 6, 2012 at 11:42 am

            Funny you say that, because it seems you are the only one calling others names to demean their opinions, and then refusing yourself to give any detail as to how the plan is not “Smart Development” which is new speak for Agenda 21 planning.

            In some respects the plan does address some things that are broken, and that is good, however it appears it also is overstepping that distinction in many other respects.

            So lets try and talk about it without name calling, and include some specifics;

            Personally, I am less concerned with the issues that address items that were generally agreed upon were broken per say, and more concerned with the underliers.

            First let me just state that smart growth wasn’t based on science, it is political dogma pure and simple. It is a joining of zoning code with government sponsored initiatives.

            I am concerned that what we will begin to see an urbanization of our rural towns here in Idaho with high-density development, I saw it happen in our little town we moved from, and one sad consequence was that it effectively gerrymandered the population center and shifted the voting pattern of our rural town from Right to Left.

            Yes it can happen here too.

            Smart growth plans do usurp our property and constitutional rights.

            For instance I see our local officials here in KC are, at the request of the Idaho State Government, currently revising our zoning laws to fit into what can only be looked upon as smart code zoning, and that can only mean one thing, a reshuffling of property rights.

            But lets get into those specifics, am I reading it right Terry, if all this comes to fruition;

            Would some rural property owners lose the right to subdivide?

            Will conservation land adjacent to population centers be rezoned for commercial employment?

            Would low-density land in small towns like mine be re-designated as growth areas?

            Will they be rezoned to accommodate diverse housing types including high-density buildings?

            Are there federal or state sponsored housing initiatives involved?

            Wouldn’t then this plan enable the county to engage in regulatory
            action that could devalue our property, or restrict off-conveyances, or subsequently erode our property values?

            Wouldn’t the net effect of all this be more highly urbanized population center(s) throughout our otherwise rural county?

            Wouldn’t it also limit the availability of land for what is otherwise deemed unsustainable endeavors?

            Again, I am an advocate of the environment, just like many others who might have a healthy skepticism about this plan.

            I guess for myself, I just don’t want to remain passive about the implications
            of this until after it is promulgated in my own backyard…again.

  3. Terry July 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    I guess I just disagree that “smart growth” is some sort of Agenda 21 thing. I see smart growth as just being smart and not dumb. Planning is better than not planning. Protecting the environment is better than not protecting the environment.

    When you say that “smart growth wasn’t based on science, it is political dogma pure and simple” you are basically, factually, incorrect. You’re obviously more worried about “shift[ing] the voting pattern of our rural town from Right to Left” than you are about modern land use practices, economic development and resource protection. Smart growth plans do NOT usurp property and constitutional rights — the US Supreme Court, the Idaho Supreme Court, and even the Idaho legislature would necessarily beg to differ.

    But sure, let’s talk specifics:

    You ask: “Would some rural property owners lose the right to subdivide?” The answer is no, but first, let’s talk about the Constitutional “right to subdivide” shall we? This is what I mean when I say property rights are not absolute. How can you oppose high density development in cities (merely a form of subdivision, am I right?) but demand rights to subdivide in rural zones? Basically, because we have planning and zoning to protect EVERYONE’s property rights (and property values) by keeping incompatibilities apart. Higher density development belongs in and near cities. Isn’t that simply “smart” and not really a UN conspiracy?

    You ask: “Will conservation land adjacent to population centers be rezoned for commercial employment?” Conservation land? No. Other lands? Maybe. If cities cannot annex property in a logical manner their economic development potential is choked off. You want job centers where the population centers are. Seems “smart” to me.

    You ask: “Would low-density land in small towns like mine be re-designated as growth areas? Will they be rezoned to accommodate diverse housing types including high-density buildings?” I don’t know where you live, but the ULUC applies only to unincorporated areas, not lands within municipal limits. How your town grows depends largely on your town and NOT the ULUC.

    You ask: “Are there federal or state sponsored housing initiatives involved?” Not in the ULUC.

    You ask: “Wouldn’t then this plan enable the county to engage in regulatory action that could devalue our property, or restrict off-conveyances, or subsequently erode our property values?” Restrict off-conveyances? No. To teh rest of your question, the net effect of the ULUC is that the county is actually engaging in regulatory action to PROTECT our property values.

    You ask: “Wouldn’t the net effect of all this be more highly urbanized population center(s) throughout our otherwise rural county?” If you want to protect the rural nature of the county, while facing a population increase of 70,000 over the next 10-15 years, then, yes, more people will need to be in urban centers. 70,000 new people in the rural parts of the county makes it rural no more.

    You ask” “Wouldn’t it also limit the availability of land for what is otherwise deemed unsustainable endeavors?” My immediate answer is yes, hopefully. But no, the ULUC alone does nothing to limit the availability of land. All it does is restrict where things are allowed — it accommodates all sorts of unsustainable endeavors. If that’s your business model, there’s still room for you in Kootenai County.

  4. Charles July 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the reply.

    Disagreeing if all fine and well, however I believe the facts bear me out should you choose to investigate it further, you will find out just where smart growth, sustainable development, etc is derived from.

    Why do you see it as smart and not dumb, just because it has the word smart in it does not make it so. What may seem smart to you ecologically speaking may very well appear appallingly dumb to another person with respect to their liberty. There are trade offs to be sure, and I am not inclined to infer that no plan is better that this plan, however the jury is out in my household as to whether this plan passes muster.

    I am not just concerned about changing voting patterns Terry, though it is true that the underlying motivations of this plan are intended to do just that and then some, what I am concerned with is not living in the UN’s version of utopia, where diversity and fairness at any cost rule the roost. I am more interested in preserving the right to be independent, to exercise self determination, and to be at liberty to live my life and do with my property as I see fit, within reason of course.

    When you say I am factually incorrect with regard to Smart Growth being political dogma, please elaborate, I would be curious what your thoughts are.

    Despite what the SCOTUS or anyone else thinks, to suggest sustainable development does not usurp one’s property rights in the literal if not the legal sense is on its face delusive, one not need be a real estate attorney in order to see that much.

    Being liberally minded in the modern sense of the word, and consumed with environmentally driven agendas, and there is nothing wrong with that, however it would explain why you are so willing to embrace this plan even at the potential expense to our liberty.

    I will do more investigation into the plan itself and look forward to discussing it further with you.

    Thanks for your time.

  5. Terry July 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    I’ll have more to say about the whole UN thing soon, because frankly, a gullible conservatism is being sold a bill of goods by charlatans, snake oil salesmen, and oil companies. And I’ll also respond in detail about the origins of “smart growth” and what makes it smart beyond dictionary definitions and anything the UN has to say.

    But more to your key point — what “expense to liberty” are we talking about?
    Nobody has been able to point me to anywhere in the ULUC where liberties are taken. Nowhere in the ULUC is there anything that remotely impacts your “liberty to live my life and do with my property as I see fit, within reason of course.” What the ULUC DOES do is that it defines what “within reason” means so that everyone knows in advance. There are policy choices embedded in there, for sure, but let’s talk about those instead of the un-informed knee-jerk nonsense we’ve heard so far.

    • Charles July 7, 2012 at 12:06 am - Reply

      Hi Terry,

      Oh boy, more ad hominem arguments…?

      I suppose the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio last month where the iconic statue of Jesus Christ was bathed in a green glow was just a figment of our imaginations too.

      I will reserve any further comment until I have had more time to digest the ULUC, at least in so far as any lay person might, and you have had an opportunity to post the information you would like to regarding the UN and smart growth.

      Have a great evening,

      -C

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  7. Jo July 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    Terry you said you will have more to say about the whole UN thing soon. I suggest you contact Rosa Koire at rk@postsustainabilityinstitute.org for more information on UN Agenda 21. She is a forensic commercial real estate appraiser specializing in eminent domain valuation in California, she also is a liberal democrat, and wrote a pretty amazing book on Sustainable Development, Smart Growth, or whatever you want to call it. Her book is called Behind the Green Mask: UN Agenda 21. You can get it on amazon and download it on your kindle or ipad. You can also check out her websites at http://www.PostSustainabilityInstitute.org
    http://www.DemocratsAgainstUNAgenda21.com .

    I have personally read her book and have exchanged emails with her. She is probably the most informed person on Sustainable Development/ UN Agenda 21.

    While I think it is important to learn about Sustainable Development/Agenda 21, I agree the public needs to research the Comprehensive Plan and ULUC and state specific things we do not like about both and offer alternatives to the plan and educate the public.

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  9. CDG August 28, 2012 at 9:10 am - Reply

    I don’t know of any county land owner that is trying to put a pig farm in the city boundaries. Maybe Terry does? If so then BY ALL MEANS take away ANY freedom anyone else has and then dole a miniscule of it back out piecemeal to the subjects of environmentalism IF they are approved and can afford ($$$) to have ‘freedom.’

    The ULUC, as being written, has STOLEN the undiscovered land use of Kootenai County!!

    If I am uninformed (‘dishonest’ or ‘lazy’) about the ULUC and state requirements, then shame on me for complaining. Let’s define “uninformed, dishonest or lazy.” As Terry uses the word, it means someone who does not agree with him and the power/land grab taking place in the land use code re-write process. You and I are “lazy” if a man’s livelihood comes before a fungus species not yet discovered. We are “dishonest” if we are not okay with socialism and fascism ANYWHERE let alone America. Let us not forget that KEA (and Idaho Smart Growth, IB, American Planning Association, Sustainable Citites and many more of the like) are the ONLY honest, hard-working and informed people who care about having healthy drinking water. They are the ONLY people who understand about sustainability, therefore it MUST BE FORCED on the rest of the (dishonest, lazy and) uninformed landowners, many of whom depend on the land for their livelihood, by people who live out of state and our elected officials. Yes, I am uninformed.

    I am shocked that anyone is criticizing the regulations from the 70s. Those were also ‘strongly suggested’ as the only way to prevent urban sprawl and remove liability and make everyone happy. Weren’t the people that wrote them SURE they would be effective? Yes, and no they aren’t. Could it possibly be that anything regulated would fail? Heaven forbid the economic boom of not being “permit fee’d” or taxed to death, not to mention the life lessons learned from trying and failing and learning and then coming up with the next new GREATEST land use that makes everyone’s life easier AND keeps the water clean…But no, the peons should not be allowed that opportunity, only the all knowing board of commissioners, KEA, planning committee, etc. This falls right in line with Obama’s executive order #13575, control over fiber, food and energy in all rural lands.

    Terry, it must be flattering to be consulted for every thought that the advisory committee has. That is a lot of power and control. I know it is a lot of responsibility also. The large donation from the Bullitt Foundation to push an environmentally extreme Comprehensive Plan on little, uneducated, “dishonest” and “lazy” po’dunk Kootenai County property owners. What a wise steward you are of our land. We couldn’t do it without you.

    If business wants to come here, they want to come here. It is very (dare I say) dishonest and contradictory of you to say that we want a rural community but we want to solicit any and all businesses to plant here. If we are metropolitan then we are not rural. Are we trying to draw business here to get a bigger tax base? Don’t businesses come to the cities? The ULUC is not going to bring business to the county. Didn’t we already establish we aren’t talking about the cities?

    As someone who has personally attended the ULUC meetings as an observer, a property-owning observer, I come away with the impression that the county is encouraging the cities to look at property in the county as a buffet. “We want to make sure that land coming into the cities, meets the city’s requirements.” (Todd Tondee to Hauser City Planners re ACI).

    As a wise man once said, “Your view ends at your property line.” Is that California for you Terry? or Massachusettes? We won’t be offended if you stay there, thoughts and all.

    The ULUC as proposed has STOLEN the undiscovered land use of Kootenai County!!

    • Terry August 28, 2012 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Maybe a pig farm is too abstract for you. Talk to folks on the prairie about asphalt plants.

      I get it. You don’t like environmentalists, environmentalism, foundations, planners, planning, taxes, government, Obama, the U.N., etc. More concerning, however, is the illogic you bring to your questioning:

      If business wants to come here, they want to come here. It is very (dare I say) dishonest and contradictory of you to say that we want a rural community but we want to solicit any and all businesses to plant here. If we are metropolitan then we are not rural. Are we trying to draw business here to get a bigger tax base? Don’t businesses come to the cities? The ULUC is not going to bring business to the county. Didn’t we already establish we aren’t talking about the cities?


      Our view is that you can have a vibrant “metropolitan” approach to attracting businesses while, at the same time, protecting the rural landscapes. Land use regulation absolutely helps.

      And your “STOLEN” sloganeering, is simply without basis in the code.

      So this is basically what I’m talking about — you’re failing to understand the concepts, failing to read the code, and you’re not offering any solutions.

  10. Brad September 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    People like Terry and more gov regs is why I may cancel all building projects in KC.
    Agenda 21 is a job killer plain and simple. Unless you are looking for a gov job. Only problem is too many gov workers eventually run out of other peoples money. Compounded by the fact that the private sector producers will invest less under the heavier hand of bigger gov..
    2/3 of Idaho land is already controlled by the fed. The 1/3 that we the people control needs to stay that way . We own the gov the gov does not own us. Terry may think just the opposite but he is a minority.

  11. Six Studies - Terry J. Harris October 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm - Reply

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