Thursday, November 5, 2009

Prop 207 Victory For Goodman? Not So Fast...

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 9:27 PM

The Goldwater Institute has spoken on its lawsuit on behalf of developer Michael Goodman vs. the city of Tucson, calling Pima County Superior Court Judge Paul Tang's ruling a victory for Prop 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act passed in 2006:

"Arizona voters overwhelmingly embraced greater protection of private property rights," said Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, "and this ruling vindicates that intent."

Mr. Goodman, a Tucson builder, buys run-down properties in the downtown area and near the University of Arizona, and replaces them with new housing that meets or exceeds zoning requirements and building standards. But in 2007 the City of Tucson enacted an anti-demolition ordinance that subjected property owners to a labyrinth of rules that limited property use and instantly reduced property values for thousands of homeowners and small business owners. This ordinance applied to Mr. Goodman after he had received building permits and begun the building process.

The next step in Goodman v. City of Tucson is to determine the amount of damages the City must pay. "[F]or every actionable injury there is a corresponding right to damages," Judge Tang added. Prop 207 is "part of a greater effort and movement in favor of individual rights."

We would quibble with Bolick's portrayal of Goodman as a heroic developer improving neighborhoods, but whatevs.

More importantly, Tucson City Attorney Michael McCrory says Bolick may be jumping the gun.

"We have a long way to go before we go to awarding damages," said McCrory, who is representing the city in this lawsuit, as well as other litigation Goodman still has against the city regarding his Feldman's and Jefferson Park neighborhood developments.

Since the anti-demolition ordinance has already been repealed, McCrory says Goodman no longer has any present damages. But next will be a discovery phase, and the Goldwater Institute will have to come before Tang and show specific damages.

McCrory says he expects to bring up a whole slew of legal issues regarding Goodman's claim, statutory interpretation and the question of whether damages can legally be awarded.

"We're not terribly upset by this ruling," quipped McCrory, who said that he expected to be back in the courtroom on the case early next year.

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