Dennis O'Connor: Local landmarks?


The Historic Structure Policy Review Committee got it right when it made the ordinance voluntary instead of mandatory, even with respect to "local landmarks."

First, exactly which privately owned structures are these "local landmarks?" So far, that phrase has only been subjective. Why not start with identifying exactly which privately owned properties are considered "local landmarks?"

The next goal would be to do what is necessary to preserve these structures. What is the best and most equitable method to do this? Simply put, what we are talking about is that the public would like to control or own the development rights for these landmark properties. That way the owner of the property would be restricted with respect to any changes or redevelopment of the landmark property.

This exact same problem has been successfully handled in the county, where the public sought preservation of certain ranches. The answer was the creation of the Purchase of Development Rights program (PDR). Through a process, the owner separates off the development rights in exchange for consideration (money) and tax breaks and benefits. Thus, there is no "taking" of a person's private property interests without just compensation (a historic principle that we also seek to preserve).

Here, the solution to balancing the desire of the public to preserve certain buildings and the legally protected rights and interests of the individual property owner, is easy.

1. Identify exactly which properties are to be considered "local landmarks."

2. Identify which properties are privately owned and which are publicly owned.

3. Set up negotiations with the individual property owners to identify a fair market value for the development rights on each property. (Failure of owner to cooperate still leaves city with eminent domain rights.)

4. Set up a funding mechanism like the PDR program and set up some tax breaks/benefits to purchase those rights and easements.

The process has worked great for our county lands. It also would work well, and justly, as we seek to preserve our historic buildings and our heritage of American Values as well. To take these development rights from the owners without compensation is just plain stealing, whether under the guise of an ordinance or otherwise. To acknowledge up front that what the public is asking to receive from these owners is actually an interest in real property with separate and distinct value, is honest.

Dennis O'Connor

Steamboat Springs


the_Lizard 9 years ago

Thus, there is no "taking" of a person's private property interests >< Unless the owner doesn't cooperate, then there is this option... (Failure of owner to cooperate still leaves city with eminent domain rights.) I find this to be very scary; infringment on private property rights as determined by a committee. "Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist." John Adams

ekruoro52 9 years ago

i thought he said give me liberty or give me death or was that Tommy paine


bloggyblog 9 years ago

"property must be secured or liberty cannot exist." blog thinks that must be what john adams told the indians.


justathought 9 years ago

When no one's looking why don't you just trespass on the property every once in a while for the next 20 years and then claim it for your own; That's how it's done in Boulder.


424now 9 years ago

Quotes of President John Adams.

"Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty."

"There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."

"All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation."

"As much as I converse with sages and heroes, they have very little of my love and admiration. I long for rural and domestic scene, for the warbling of birds and the prattling of my children."

End quote.


424now 9 years ago

Some Thomas pain quotes,

"It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance."

"Character is much easier kept than recovered."

"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

"It is not a field of a few acres of ground, but a cause, that we are defending, and whether we defeat the enemy in one battle, or by degrees, the consequences will be the same."

End quote.


Dave Moloney 9 years ago

Right on Dennis. If the preservations of these assets is a priority to the community, then we should be willing to pay fair market value for them. If we aren't willing to pay, why should the person who has forked out their cold hard cash to own the property be willing to let the city tell them what they can do with their property.

The emminent domain scenario would still result in the property owner being compensated at fair market value.


MtnWarlock 9 years ago

Fair market values under eminent domain, have very different values, in the eyes of each party involved. Eminent domain is a hostel way to do business! In my opinion, its a way for the government to take what ever they want, for what ever reason they deem as useful to the majority, at the expense of a single owner! I also feel, eminent domain should be a four letter word! Ask someone who went through it! Ask a lawyer! Nothing like using the government to bully you out of your land. It usually ends up in take it or leave it and we know who wins that battle!


the_Lizard 9 years ago

Exactly, Mtnwarlock! IMO it's a slippery slope which was encouraged by the 2005 Supreme Court Ruling allowing private entities to the "taking" of another's property. Fair Market Values may not only be different , but maybe the private property owner wishes to do something else with THEIR private propert. ....all for the greater good... hmmmm


424now 9 years ago

This is my opinion.

If all these preservationists want to keep good ol' Steamboat Old! Let the pay top dollar rent on a monthly basis to the owner of the property. Make them feel the same loss their asking of the land owner. Lets see how much they want preservation when it comes at a price.


bubba 9 years ago

If the city is not willing to compensate property owners for keeping their property in the state that the city deems valuable, then they clearly do not consider it valuable enough.

In my opinion, passing a law that dictates what someone can or can't do with their house is a regulatory taking, no matter how many times the 'preservationists' say that keeping the crappy windows and leaky roof adds value.

Using eminent domain to rob someone of their property for the sake of preserving a house that someone deems significant would be a horrible abomination of the intended purpose of eminent domain. The clause of the constitution that eminent domain is based on states that property can be taken for 'public USE,' with 'just compensation.' The public use clause has been bastardized in the courts to mean 'public BENEFIT,' thus allowing cases such as Kelo vs New London to fail; cities have determined that increasing their tax base is a viable enough public benefit to deny someone of their personal property rights. I disagree with this, and think that use and benefit are different things, but even if you do agree with the government's taking someone's land to improve the tax base (and therefore services) to the larger population, I still do not understand how you can make the leap to say 'I like the way that building looks, therefore, it's existence benefits the community so much that we should strip the owner of his or her constitutionally guaranteed property rights.'

You can say I sound like a realtor or whatever you like, but protecting private property rights is one of the fundamental principles that this country was founded on, preserving old houses is not.


the_Lizard 9 years ago

Spoken like a true whiner. It's not MY property cuz I'm not riiiich and I didn't inhhhherit and I waaant it preserved. To he!! with anothers riiiights. If you complain and care a about constitutional rights, you must be a realatoooor.


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