|Ph.D Student||Orni Nira|
|Subject||The Time Factor in Land Expropriation|
A Comparative Analysis of Israel and Victoria
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Emeritus Rachelle Alterman|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
The dissertation presents a cross-national comparative research exploring the time factor in the process of land expropriations. Two states, Israel and Victoria (Australia), were compared on the manner and degree to which their expropriation laws and practices create a balance between property rights and public needs. Each of states' systems was examined on both a factual and a normative level.
Expropriation involves a conflict between public objectives and private property rights, and often entails injury to landowners' land. Such injuries could be either intensified or moderated by the laws and processes. A key element in this respect is the time factor: Prolongation of the expropriation process exacerbates the tension between public objectives and landowners' rights. Public planners are often interested in long-term planning and in flexibility, while landowners are usually interested in stability, certainty and the ability to maintain control over their property. Achieving a balance between these conflicting interests is the task of planners, legislature, expropriating authorities and courts.
Our comparison showed that in Victoria, owners are allowed to choose the date on which they receive compensation and thereby end the period of waiting for acquisition. In Israel, the unlimited delay can leave the landowner with devalued property and only partial and uncertain compensation. Due to this seemingly minor difference in the timing of compensation, I find the Victoria system to be much more balanced and less injurious to landowners than the Israeli one.
Based on the research analysis, I concluded that while it is essential for public planning to reserve land for long term public purposes, injury to landowners can be mitigated by legal provisions that focus on the time dimension and grant landowners rights to “exit” before the actual transfer of property title. The solution found in the system in Victoria provides one such example - among several other possibilities.
Planning theories pose very general principles, but do not offer practical frameworks for evaluating real-life laws and policies in the realm of land expropriation. To bridge this gap, the pertaining theories should be relegated from the ivory tower, so as to deal with the details and reality of systems.