February 26, a group of business associations and major developers wrote members of the State Senate in opposition to SB 5507, a bill that would upset existing property development vesting laws. This measure has not received much press coverage. It should.
As the letter, on AWB letterhead, says:
To extinguish the vested rights doctrine, as this bill would do, would be to remove all certainty and predictability from the process. Both public and private projects require a reasonable level of certainty and predictability.
Not that long ago, the Washington Competitiveness Council ranked regulatory reform as a top priority. Consider this finding from the first WCC report:
The current regulatory structure unnecessarily delays projects, increases project cost, creates unnecessary uncertainty, reduces operating flexibility, and increases barriers to business growth. It stirs hostility toward government. It wastes resources, increasing government costs. It leads to angry applicants and it encourages project opponents to manipulate the permitting system.
In the years after the report was released, state officials made progress. SB 5507 is a great leap backward. Worse, really.