While People’s Republic of China property law is now in effect, what about real property protection in CA?

As I often focus on the issue of property rights protection, and visited mainland China this past spring, I thought this post is timely in that their property rights law went in to effect October 1, 2007. The Peoples Republic of China, PRC, devoted 14 years hammering out this document that includes 19 Chapters and 247 Articles. Although they are a socialist country with many policies that I oppose, it appears that they recognize the need to offer property protection to individual and collectives in their socialist market economy.

While they recognize the need to provide safeguards for their masses we struggle to get voter approval of similar real property rights protection right here in the acknowledged poster child of a “free” nation, the U.S.A.

Their Constitution also stipulates, “Citizen’s lawful private property is inviolable.” It goes on to say that “the State, in accordance with law, protects the rights of citizens to private property and to its inheritance.” On the premise that ownership of property is established according to law, as subjects of property, no matter whether it is the State, collective or individual, their right of property shall be given equal protection.”

It adds “the exercise of rights by a usufructuary or a secured party shall not damage the rights and interests of the owner.” Regarding expropriation of the houses and other immovables of units and individuals, the document stipulates, “Compensation for resettlement shall be paid to the units and individuals whose houses or other immovables are expropriated, in order to preserve their lawful rights and interests; where the residential unit of an individual is expropriated, his living conditions shall be guaranteed.” In view of the unbalanced development of different areas, the specific compensation standards and measures shall be formulated in the relevant laws such as the Land Administration Law in compliance with the principles for compensation and the items to be compensated for, as prescribed in the draft property law, and in light of the specific circumstances.”

While this law has just gone into effect, and I have not seen any examples of it being tested, at least the PRC has recognized the need for private property safeguards. What are we doing to safeguard real property in California?

In CA we struggle to get legislation or public initiatives enacted into law to meet the same goal. Sadly, there are powerful lobbyists in the game who prefer the status quo. Regardless, we are confidant that 2008 will be the year that voters in California finally take matters into their own hands and pass a CA. Constitutional Amendment to remove the “private to private” takings of our properties when said property is “not for sale.”

Sadly that protection was not to be the case of Vaughan Benz furniture manufacturing in south central LA. I mention Vaughan Benz as an example of a small business that would not have been protected if you vote for the deceptive initiative labeled the “Homeowners & Private Property Protection Act.”

Read the document and you will soon recognize that it fails to protect many types of homes, small businesses and private property. Another illustration is the Filipino Church in Long Beach that was to be taken for part of a condo project. Houses of worship are not protected in the League of Cities promoted Initiative referenced above. Ronzel Cato lost his Fresno home for a turkey processing plant even after he told the city he didn’t wish to sell. Ronzel, whom I met in Sacramento when testifying on redevelopment reform, is a fifth generation African-American, the first in his family to own a piece of the American dream. His dream was snuffed out by people with deeper pockets. Ronzel’s testimony is a reminder for me to continue the fight until justice prevails.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Assoc. co-sponsored Initiative, that we are promoting, is the “California Property Owners & Farmland Protection Act.” This Initiative affords protection for “all” forms of private property be it homes, businesses, family farms, places of worship along with rental and investment properties. The Secretary of State has revised our requested title to read “GOVERNMENT ACQUISITION, REGULATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.”

As both sides are actively gathering Initiative signatures, let me caution you on which version to sign. Read both documents and see for yourself what I reference above.

Larry Gilbert, Orange County Co-director, CURE

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