Citizens fight for property rights

By Hilary Maynard, The Courier-Herald

The grassroots effort that started last spring to curb county restrictions on rural property use is back in full force.

The Property Rights Political Action Committee is meeting Thursday night at the Enumclaw Community Library to discuss the future of individual property rights in King County.

The PAC held its first meeting in February, led by Steve Hammond, Ron Mariotti and Kent Pullen. Things have certainly changed in six months: Hammond was an Enumclaw minister then and has since been appointed to the King County Council; Pullen was on the council in February, but died just two months later.

At the February meeting, committee membersraised several thousand dollars in a direct response to the proposed King County Critical Area Ordinance.

According to director Rod McFarland, the PAC has since been successful in organizing and developing into a formal political action committee and has caught the community's eye.

"We'll see if we can stir up some action, gain people and money and everything that goes with that," McFarland said. "It's still too early - we haven' been a big force but everything's got to start somewhere."

According to McFarland, the PAC was organized to battle urban influences and "oppressive land use restrictions" by electing King County officials who understand the county's rural areas.

"Enumclaw is part of King County and so is Seattle, but Seattle is not rural," McFarland said. "What seems good for Seattle is not always good for Enumclaw."

McFarland stands by the principles of the PAC, reiterating the importance of the individual's property rights.

"It seems that there's more and more laws that nibble away at property rights," said McFarland. "Students of history will understand that all rights are based on property rights. If you control your life and your property you're a free man, if not, you're a slave."

Hammond, a founding member of the PAC, resigned his post as committee president when he was appointed to the King County Council. However, he still supports individual property rights in King County.

"I believe that King County has trampled on the property rights of people," Hammond said. "People go to the county when they have problems, and the county ends up bullying them."

"Steve's helping us where and when he can," according to Mariotti, another founding member and current PAC vice president.

"We are absolutely controlled by King County," Mariotti said. "Most of the council members live in urban communities and have no idea what it's like to own rural land."

Mariotti said the goal of the PAC is to start changing things within King County and expand through the state.

"Our purpose is to bring the property rights back to the people who own the property," Mariotti said. "Our support is growing stronger. It tapered off as summer came but now it's picking up again."

Mariotti said there have been no major changes as a result of the PAC's existence, but members will continue to meet and raise money for their cause, bringing in speakers and fighting land ordinances in King County.

"People need to attend meetings and find out what we're about," Mariotti said. "We're about people's rights. There are a lot of people who sit around and wait for others to do work that they benefit from. This is an everybody issue."

"They can't take your land without paying you for it," Mariotti said.

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