In response to "takings" legislation passed in Washington state earlier
this year, a statewide Coalition of Sierra Club chapters, canvassers and
citizen groups has rallied to introduce a referendum that could defeat
Initiative 164, the "bad neighbor" bill, in November. In less than three
months the coalition, with help from the Sierra Club's canvassers, collected
more than 230,000 signatures--twice the required minimum to get a referendum
on the ballot. 'This was a remarkable achievement," said Cascade Chapter
member Bruce Wishart. "One volunteer alone gathered 2,000 signatures, and
she's in her eighties.
More than 20 citizen groups--including the League of Women Voters, Common
Cause and People for Fair Taxes--joined together to oppose the new law.
The takings legislation is the product of an initiative petition that was
spearheaded by the Umbrella Group, a network of "wise use" organizations
in Washington state.
One of the most extreme versions of takings legislation to pass in any
state so far, this initiative would require taxpayers to reimburse property
owners denied full development of their property due to zoning restrictions
or existing health, safety and environmental protections.
The coalition's referendum supersedes Initiative 164, putting it on
hold until November when Washington voters will decide its fate. "Our job
has just begun," said Wishart. 'The next step is making sure citizens understand
the impact of this bad-neighbor legislation and vote 'no,'" The campaign
will combine public education activities and intensified door-to-door canvassing.
"It's been tremendous to see the resurgence of activism throughout this
campaign," said Wishart. "People who haven't been active for a long time
are coming out of the woodwork."
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