The article explores many of the problems with the details of the vested rights doctrine and outlines a statutory solution to them.' Part I examines the inconsistent rationales that underlie the various manifestations of the doctrine. The differences between the "mandamus" and "fairness/certainty" rationales help explain some of the confusion that has become a fixture of the doctrine. Part II discusses a host of issues that the doctrine fails to resolve adequately. It groups these issues into four fundamental questions, the divergent answers to which often form the key dispute in any vested rights case: (1) to which types of land use permit applications is the doctrine applicable; (2) what types of laws does the doctrine freeze in time; (3) when does the doctrine begin to freeze those laws in time; and (4) for how long, and for what purpose, does the doctrine apply in the context of development projects that require more than one permit? Part III makes the case for adopting a statutory rule that replaces the muddled common-law doctrine in a way that reestablishes certainty and at least strives for fairness in the law's details.
Roger D. Wynne, Washington's Vested Rights Doctrine: How We Have Muddled a Simple Concept and How We Can Reclaim It, 24 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 851 (2001).