Don't know if you've heard, but Arizona voters passed a new law in November, a nameless one called Proposition 207. And here's what preservationists have to say about it:
"With Prop 207, we're dead in the water," Debbie Abele, Scottsdale historic preservation officer, told the East Valley Tribune.
It's modeled after Oregon's controversial property-rights law Measure 37. In a nutshell, it allows property owners to seek compensation from the state for infringing on their right to use, divide, sell, or possess their property via a land-use law.
People yell at me whenever I write a story about property rights. A former editor accused me of being a libertarian (a surreal McCarthyism moment). Obviously it's a divisive issue, but I can see both sides: If it weren't for laws, even Mount Vernon could be redeveloped-well, OK, not really. Then again, my neighbor in our historic district has to remove all her new windows because she didn't get approval first. Stuff like that fuels the "don't tell me what to do with my property" case.
Arizona's law means lawsuits, which gives city officials pause. Or stalls them permanently. After Prop 207 passed, the League of Arizona Cities and Towns issued a report that recommends governments to require 100 percent support before designating a historic area. Total agreement? Like that will happen.
In limbo is the only pre-war neighborhood in Tempe, wedged between Arizona State University and downtown. What are the chances that the 204-house neighborhood, built between 1900 and 1940, will become a historic district now?