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Getting It Right ... with June's Propositions
Getting It Right© - May 14 2008
by Regina Seppi :

California Eminent Domain amendments are NOT created equal !

Following the Supreme Court’s historic Kelo v. the City of New London, over 40 states have passed laws restricting eminent domain abuses symbolized by Kelo.

In California, a Kelo-Plus amendment failed to pass in 2006 when environmental interests and Gov. Schwarzenegger opposed it. Now, June 3rd, Golden State voters have a choice between two constitutional amendments, Propositions 98 and 99.

Both bills restrict the state from seizing private land for a state approved private use. Both allow for claiming land for government/ public use, like roads and schools.

But there the similarity ends.

Prop 98, the “California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act,” is supported by Doug Mosebar, president of Californian Farm Bureau and Jon Coupal, President of Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Assoc.,

Prop 98 prohibits private property from being taken for a private use and defines just compensation. It also phases out government imposed rent controls, allowing the market to set prices.

Prop 99, the “Homeowners Protection Act” will cancel any rival if it receives more votes. It is sponsored, among others by the Sierra Club and groups that stand to benefit from eminent domain including the California State Association of Counties and the California Redevelopment Association.

The official election legislative analysis states that Prop 99 “would not change significantly current government land acquisition practices.” Critics say it actually protects eminent domain, since Prop 99 contains exceptions to practice land seizure for crime control, public health and the environment.

One difference between the two is the rent control reform. Prop. 98 would phase out rent control by allowing it to stay the same as long as renters are in the current residence. But when they move, the rates go to the market price. Rent control is a form of eminent domain because it steals the value of property. Although touted as protection against greedy landlords, it actually leads to a shortage of housing by coercively keeping value low, slowing investment and construction.

On June 3rd Californians have a choice between the sacred right to private property or increasing the power of the state over the family inheritance. I encourage a YES on 98 and NO on 99.

I would be glad to hear your questions or comments regarding this column.

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