Attorney/author Tim Sandefur analysis on eminent domain reform

Look at the facts on eminent domain reform


Guest Commentary, by TIMOTHY SANDEFUR

“It’s sad commentary that a deeply dishonest ballot initiative could be written by a group of special interests hoping to fool voters — and who then turn around and accuse their opponents of doing just that. But that’s what’s happening with Propositions 98 and 99, and it’s understandable that citizens hoping to reform eminent domain might be confused. Here are the facts.”

Following are a few paragraphs from Tim’s guest viewpoint. You can read the entire article at the following link.

“Proposition 98, written by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — for decades the state’s leading defender of homeowners — would stop government from abusing eminent domain and taking homes, businesses, apartments, farms, churches, and other property and giving it to private developers for their own use.

Government groups and developers, frightened that Prop. 98 might pass, wrote their own initiative, Prop. 99, to prevent serious eminent domain reform from becoming law. That initiative would do absolutely nothing to protect private property owners in California. The initiative specifically excludes small businesses — by far the most common victim of eminent domain — from any protection. It also excludes farms, churches, and apartment buildings.

Worse yet, the fine print in Prop. 99 would reverse even the protections for homeowners. That’s because the initiative’s definitions section states that it will not apply if land is taken away to provide for “recreation” or “entertainment” or for “private uses incidental to” such things. In other words, if bureaucrats decide to take your home to build a shopping mall, they only need to include a community center, or a branch of the public library, or a police station somewhere in that mall, and Prop. 99’s protections would be rendered void.

Moreover, Prop. 99 would not apply to projects intended to prevent the “repeated criminal activity.” Many developers already argue that their private projects will improve the local economy and thereby reduce crime — a flimsy argument when you look at the statistics, but enough to get past Proposition 99’s empty promises.

Prop. 98’s critics charge that it would eliminate rent control and thus hurt tenants. This is curious, given that only Prop. 98 would protect renters from eminent domain. But it’s also deeply misleading.

First, rent control is already illegal in most California cities, under laws passed a decade ago. The reason for this is that rent control is a bad idea; it hurts the poor, drives up the cost of housing, and violates private property rights. If laws make it illegal to charge what something is worth, businesses will provide less of it. Rent control creates housing shortages by deterring investors from putting places up for rent. They also lead to bad maintenance because landlords don’t find it worthwhile to maintain property that they are forced to operate at a discount.

Still, Prop. 98 would not touch rent control for any person currently living in rent controlled property. It would phase out rent control only when people move, but it does not allow landlords to evict people for paying low rents, or to raise rents for people living on their land. The idea that Prop. 98 would throw people out on the street is a lie spread by Prop. 99’s backers to fool people into voting against eminent domain reform.”

Tim recommends that you vote yes on Proposition 98 and no on Prop. 99.

Larry Gilbert comment. Don’t be conned by the AARP TV ad on evictions that is simply not true. Read your ballot book before casting your vote. That is what I learned from following Ronald Reagan. “Trust, but verify.”

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