Sept 29th Orange County Taxpayer meeting

Orange County Taxpayers Association. A slick name that does not represent the taxpayers or property owners of Orange County.

I attended their meeting this afternoon to hear their debate on two Ballot Measures that they failed to act on at their previous meeting. The first being Ballot Measure “Proposition 1B, [the $19.925 billion] Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006.”

In their OCTax analysis it reads: “Politicians pretend that bonds are “free” because they do not raise taxes directly, but there’s no free lunch. Taxpayers would pay almost $40 billion in principal and interest on Proposition 1B.” Yet they voted to endorse this measure even while acknowledging that the lions share will not be coming to Orange County.

They next opened discussion of Prop 90, the “Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property, Initiative Constitutional Amendment.”

In their OCTax Position it reads:

“Proposition 90 is simple and fair.

It would limit the power of eminent domain to projects of public use (e.g. parks, road construction), and prohibit it’s use for economic development or tax revenue purposes.

It would stop government from downzoning properties, then buying them at low prices.
It would allow eminent domain for private entities contracted to governments (e.g. toll roads) and private utilities regulated by the Public Utilities Commission (e.g. phones).
When government takes private property, the owner would receive compensation based on the owner’s fair market value, regardless of the use contemplated by government.
It would require that property owners be given copies of all appraisals.
It would allow the taking of property during declared states of emergency or blight.
Government’s ability to take already-permissable action (e.g. widening a street) would be unaffected. Only new laws or regulations would be subject to restrictions.”

Now I ask you. What’s bad about these “simple and fair” facts. Yet on a split vote OC Tax voted to oppose Prop 90. Sadly the representatives of SCE and SDG&E expressed concern over possible future “takings” for transmission lines.
In my view, even though these utility companies may be private firms, transmission lines do represent a valid public use. There were a few spokespersons who demonstrated a lack of empathy for private property owners by their self serving “sky will fall” presentations.

And the most ironic part of this meeting was their unanimous endorsement of two Republican Candidates starting with Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle whose position on eminent domain received accolades for not engaging in “taking of private property” in Anaheim’s Platinum Triangle project. The second person endorsed was former Republican Assemblywoman Patricia “Pat” Bates who is running for Board of Supervisors in the Fifth District. She is one of the numerous co-signers in support of Protect Our Homes– 90 YES. I would hope they endorsed Pat because she stands for property rights which is one of the largest policy issues in our Nation. Her support of Prop 90, along with 13 state senators and 29 members of the CA Assembly, speak volumes on the need for this Constitutional Amendment.
After pressure from within the organization I was granted 90 seconds to promote Prop 90 during which I quoted Senator Dick Ackerman where he stated:

“Proposition 90 also offers voters a chance to send a clear message to government: Enough is enough; eminent domain should only be used where a government agency requires the property for a true public purpose such as schools, roads and infrastructure projects.”

In spite of their lame vote to reject Prop 90 I remain confidant that the voters of CA will see beyond their scare tactics and vote to protect our homes, businesses and farms from government takings when those private properties are “not for sale.”

On a positive note. Treasurer/Tax Collector elect Chris Street gave a clear and concise state of the County in his presentation which preceded the voting. We are in good shape with Chris and his staff managing our funds. Although cities and special districts were hurt by commingling their money in the County Bankruptcy, they might reconsider allowing the County to again handle some of their investments. At the present time Tustin, Villa Park and San Clemente have made that choice as have five out of 28 Special Districts. Think about it!

Larry Gilbert, Orange County Co-Director, Californians United for Redevelopment Education (CURE)

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