Sticking a fork in Prop. 98

Sorry, Juice-brother Larry, but the more I learn about Proposition 98, the more of a Trojan Horse it turns out to be: not only does it get rid of rent control (whether you want to call it “abolish” or “phase out”), it also would end new public water quality and supply projects, most environmental protections including open space, habitat, logging, toxics, air and water quality, and much more, as readers will discover “on the flip.”

Also irritating but less pernicious is the pretense of groups like the Democratic Party of California and AARP that Prop. 99 represents “real eminent domain reform” when its main purpose and substance is just to kill the dangerous Prop. 98.

So OJ readers should vote NO on 98 unless they like what they hear about it on the flip. And then vote no on it a second time by holding your nose and voting yes on 99. Will we ever have an honest eminent domain reform bill that’s not stuffed full with sneaky little cluster bombs? Maybe the will and the funding don’t exist for such a bill. Or maybe next year?

Click “read more” for info that should stick a fork in Prop 98, and next time somebody tries to tell you it’s only about eminent domain (or that Prop 99 is “real eminent domain reform” and not just a poison pill to kill 98) just give them the old EVIL EYE!

From our interview with property rights attorney Ron St. John (Prop. 98 backer, rent control opponent, friend of the Orange Juice, and honest moderate Republican primary challenger to Crazy Dana Rohrabacher:)

…Now, both sides in the debate between 98 and 99 have sort of co-opted …the obvious support for eminent domain [reform.] 99 only applies to homeowners, owner-occupied homes, and Prop. 98 goes broader and includes commercial property. But the real agenda, I think, between 98 and 99, is getting rid of rent control, which is thrown into Proposition 98, but not really included in much of the advertising. And then the real point of Proposition 99 is, essentially what’s called its “poison pill” provision, which says that if it gets more votes than 98, it overrides 98, just cancels out 98.

So the real battle deserves to be fought over rent control. Now, rent control is a bad idea for a lot of different reasons. And if you’re against rent control, then this is a wonderful opportunity to vote yes on Prop. 98 and no on Prop. 99, which is what I plan on doing, for that reason.

And from my friend Jonathan Adler, Harvard BA, Yale Law School JD, Law Journal, former Supreme Court Law Clerk, former Deputy District Attorney and former executive director of public counsel (e-mail

All this may be hard to believe. But it’s actually understated. It’s literally true. Not a word is a stretch. Believe it: Prop. 98 is a grave, real, threat to our entire way of life.

Prop 98 will amend our State Constitution. Prop 98 Will End … :
–Re-Development in California by public entities
–All planning and zoning laws and ordinances, state and local
–Most state and local renters’ rights law, including on rent control, arbitrary eviction, etc.
–New public water quality and supply projects
–Most environmental protections, including on open space, habitat, logging, toxics, air and water quality, projects’ impacts (Coastal Act, CEQA), etc.
–Most consumer protection laws, including on product safety, unfair business practices, labeling, disclosures, anti-trust, etc.
–Most workplace and labor protections, including Cal-OSHA (safety), wage-and-hour, union organizing, plants’ security vs. attack, etc.
–And countless other laws regulating many other areas, e.g. healthcare, credit, insurance, finance, disclosures, many other state and local rules restraining business and property

–Prop. 98 is the most extreme far-right, pro-unrestrained-business-and-property, anti-public-interest, secret full agenda initiative ever seen in Calif.

That’s why it’s vital that we all spread the word to vote NO on Prop. 98, Yes on 99

Background: Twin of 98, 2006 Prop. 90

Prop. 98 is 90’s twin in most aspects. In 2006, backers of 90 nearly fooled enough voters: It lost by just 2½%. The S.F. Chronicle, Nader’s Public Citizen group and other investigators exposed its secret main funder as an aptly named far-right NY billionaire who put anti-regulation, anti-environment, anti-tax, etc. initiatives on many state ballots, funded via a web of front groups. (See links to their reports at
Backers of Prop. 90, like 98, are so far right they think, like Grover Norquist, that our state and local government should be “shrunk ‘til it can be drowned in a bathtub” and do no more than in 1789 – defend the nation, police, fight fires, build roads, and little else; and that all taxation is “theft”, taxing the rich more is “class warfare,” public education is “communism”, etc.

Why a Yes on Prop. 99?

It helps defeat Prop. 98, because: Both are billed “eminent domain reform.” (Prop. 99 really is, and only that.) Prop. 98 loses if it either, 1) loses outright; or, 2) passes, but 99 also passes, with more votes, and thus prevails over 98.

Hidden Trickery of Prop 98How it Works:

(Read this only if you must “get down in the weeds”)
Prop. 98 is a highly devious “bait-and-switch” fraud, billed as mere “Eminent Domain” law reform. But its real agenda is buried deep in unique definitions and use of terms like “taken”, “damaged”, “private use,” “associated property rights,” “just compensation,” and “transfer an economic benefit to … private persons at the expense of … owner.”
If its definitions are plugged into its operative parts, it says: “Regulation of the … use of … property or associated property rights … to transfer an economic benefit to private persons [is unlawful, subject to] injunction … or [court] declaration invalidating [it]” and taxpayers must pay for all lost value it causes to business or property, plus attorney fees.
Businesses “use” property and its “associated … rights.” The public and its sub-groups – consumers, workers, tenants, patients, seniors, etc. – are “private persons” who usually get some kind of “economic benefit” from regulations. The result: Prop. 98 exalts all claimed rights to unfettered business or property over all public interests to restrain business and property for the common good, and public health and safety. Businesses will sue to enjoin, and claim losses due to, laws and rules of all kinds – all at little risk, since, if they win (even a dime, but more likely millions, or billions for entire industries), they also win huge attorneys’ fees, all at taxpayers’ expense – thus in effect deterring countless laws and rules that restrain business and property at all.
The list of laws we’d lose is nearly endless. Prop. 98 is breathtaking in its disastrous anti-government scope. It must be defeated. And you are the key. Please help.

What is “Eminent Domain (‘ED’)?

(Read this only if you don’t know Prop. 98’s “bait”.)
ED goes back centuries. Governments at all levels use it as a last resort to compel sale of property, at fair market value – set by a court if need be – for such classic public uses as roads, bridges, parks, schools, public buildings, etc.
ED has also been used since the 1930’s to re-develop blighted areas, as voted by local governments, after hearings, that usually end up sold or leased to private entities.
Prop. 98’s “bait” (in its “bait-’n’-switch”) is based on fear – mostly false, fabricated by folks with a much wider anti-regulation pro-property-rights agenda – of ED forcing sale of homes for re-development that ends up privately owned. It began with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 Kelo case holding that the U.S. Constitution allowed the decades-old practice of re-developing run-down areas, waterfronts, etc. for re-vitalization and a bigger tax base, even if it required ED to buy homes not truly “blighted”.
California law already bars ED to force sale of homes to re-develop non-blighted areas. Orange Co. Measure “A” passed in 2006 bars ED for any re-development that ends up sold to private persons or companies. Few if any owner-occupied homes in non-blighted areas are actually taken by ED any more for re-development in Calif.
Prop. 99 will bar use of ED statewide to force sale of only owner-occupied homes for re-development that ends up privately owned. Prop. 98 goes all the way to apply such a bar also to all non-owner-occupied residential, as well as all business and commercial property, churches, farmland, and even totally undeveloped property – all private property.

Coalition of Coalitions, Associations, Non-Profits and Public Officials of All Stripes (categorized; as of 4/30/08; a great many more in process of joining) and Newspapers (as of 5/12/08) Strongly Urging “No on Prop. 98”


Public Officials
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Former Gov. Pete Wilson, Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-S.F.), U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Rep. George Radanovich (R-Mariposa), State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, State Senator Patricia Wiggins , State Assemblymember Lloyd Levine, Former State Assemblymember Fran Pavley

Good Government
League of Women Voters of Calif.

Local Entities’ Associations
League of California Cities, California State Assn. of Counties, California Special Districts Assn., Calif. Assn. of Councils of Government, Calif. Chapter, American Planning Assn., California Redevelopment Assn.

Calif. Transportation Commission, Transportation Agency for Monterey Co., American Society of Civil Engineers, Calif. Chapter

Public Safety
California Professional Firefighters, California Police Chiefs Assn., California Fire Chiefs Assn., Peace Officers Research Assn. of Calif., San Francisco Black Firefighters Inc.

Water Agencies
Assn. of California Water Agencies, Metropolitan Water District of Southern Calif., Friant Water Users Authority, San Diego County Water Authority, Castaic Lake Water Agency, El Dorado Irrigation District, Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, Newhall County Water District, Soquel Creek Water District, South San Joaquin Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District, Vallecitos Irrigation District, Vista Irrigation District


Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Fresno Bee Riverside, Riverside Press Enterprise, Bakersfield Californian, Oakland Tribune, San Bernardino Sun, Contra Costa Times, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Lompoc Record, Merced Sun Star, North County Times, Pasadena Star News, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Tulare Advance Register, Visalia Times Delta, Vacaville Reporter, Whittier Daily News, Woodland Daily Democrat, San Mateo County Times, Pasadena Weekly, Freemont Argus, Hayward Daily Review, Tri-Valley Herald, Alameda Times-Star, San Diego City Beat, Sacramento News and Review
(Alphabetically by type: Agriculture, Business Associations, Consumer, Education Associations, Environmental Groups, Ethnic, Faith, Health, Homeowners, Labor, Renter Advocates / Housing Providers, Public Interest / Community, Political, Seniors’ Associations, Taxpayers’ Associations, Women)

Western Growers Assn., Nisei Farmers League, Grower Shipper Assn. of Central Calif.

Business Associations
California Chamber of Commerce, 17 local/ethnic Chambers of Commerce: San Diego Regional, Greater Riverside, Los Altos, Monterey Peninsula, Mountain View, Napa, Petaluma, Redondo Beach, Richmond, Salinas, San Marcos, Santa Clarita Valley, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Calif. Black, Kern Co. Hispanic, Calif. Mexican American, California Building Industry Assn., Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of Calif.

Consumer Federation of California, Consumers Coalition of California

Education Associations
Assn. of Calif. School Administrators, California School Boards Assn., California Teachers Assn.

Environmental Groups
Audubon California, Calif. League of Conservation Voters, California Coastal Commission, California Oak Foundation, California Council of Land Trusts, Calif. Park and Recreation Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Habitats League, Environmental Defense, Greenbelt Alliance, Healthy Homes Collaborative, LandWatch Monterey Co., Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Government, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Pacific Forest Trust, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Planning and Conservation League, San Joaquin Rivdr Parkway and Conservation Trust, Save the Bay, Sierra Club California, Sonoma County Conservation Action, Trust for Public Land, Wild Heritage Planners

National Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic Renaissance CDC, South Asian Network

Lutheran Office of Public Policy – Calif., California Church Impact, LA Voice – Pico, Marin Interfaith Worker Justice, St. Anthony Foundation

Calif. Council of Community Mental Health Agencies, Mental Health Association in Calif., Physicians for Social Responsibility – L.A., National Health Law Program, AIDS Legal Referral Panel

League of Calif. Homeowners, Golden St. Manufactured-Home Owners League; and 8 of its chapters, Calif. Mobile Homes Resource and Action Assn., Coalition of Mobile Home Owners – Calif., Home Owners Acting Together, Mobile Home Owners Coalition, Neighborhood Friends, Resident Owned Parks, Inc., Sonoma No Condo Conversion Coalition, 7 local home owners associations: CMRAA / Cal Hawaiian, Contempo Marin, Los Rancheros, Mountain Springs, New Frontier, Palos Verdes Shores, Portola Heights, 17 counties’ cities’ mobile/manufactured home owners’ and residents’ associations: Alta Laguna, American Canyon, Butte County, Cameron, County Positive Action, Escondito, Hayward, Los Rancheros, Mobile Parks West, Monarch Country, Nevada Co., Oceanside, San Lorenzo, San Marcos, San Rafael, Santa Ana, Sonoma Co.

American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME); and 2 of its chapters, California Labor Federation, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, Marin Co. Building and Construction Trades Council, National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW Local 2320, AFL-CIO, People Organized to Win Employment Rights, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 159, San Francisco Labor Council, SEIU California State Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council

Renter Advocates / Housing Providers
Affordable Housing Coalition of San Diego , California Housing Consortium, Calif. Coalition for Rural Housing, Calif. Council for Affordable Housing, Calif. Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Coalition for Economic Survival, Coalition L.A., Coalition to Protect Calif. Renters, Coalition to Save Parkmerced, Community Housing Partnership, Concilio de Inquilinos: Local 1012, Council of Tenants – Los Angeles, EAH Housing, Eviction Defense Collaborative, Eviction Defense Network, First Community Housing, Housing California, Housing Justice Campaign, Housing Leadrship Council, San Mateo Co., Housing Rights Center, Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, Housing Rights, Inc., Inquilinos Unidos, Just Cause Oakland, Lincoln Place Tenants Assn., L.A. Rent Adjustment Commission, Mercy Housing Calif., Novato Housing Coalition, Oakland Housing, Residential Rent and Relocation Board, Oakland Tenants Union, Parkmerced Residents’ Organization, Rural California Housing Company, Sacramento Housing Alliance, Sacramento Mutual Housing Assn., St. Peter’s Housing Committee, San Diego Housing Federation, San Diego Renters Union, San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations, San Francisco Tenants Union, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, Southern Calif. Assn. of Non-Profit Housing, Tenant Associations Coalition of San Francisco , Tenants Together, Tenderloin Housing Clinic, Venice Community Housing Corp.

Public Interest / Community
Accountable Development Coalition, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern Calif., American Civil Liberties Union of Southern Calif., Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), ArtsCorpsLA, Asian Law Caucus, Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, California ACORN, California Alliance, Calif. Assn. of Human Relations Organizations, Californians for Justice, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Partnership, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Centro Legal De La Raza, Charles Houston Bar Assn., Chinese for Affirmative Action, Community Advocacy Center, Community United Against Violence, Concerned Citizens of Laguna Woods, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Equal Justice Society, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Friends Committee. on Legislation of Calif., Greenlining Institute, Impact Fund, Inner City Law Center, La Raza Centro Legal, Law Center for Families, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of San Francisco Bay Area, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, L.A. Community Action Network, Los Angeles Community Legal Center Educational Fund, Los Angeles Metropolitan Alliance, Mexican American Bar Assn., Miracle Mile Action Committee, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Youth Law, National Latina/o Law Student Assn., National Lawyers Guild, National Lawyers Guild, Southern Calif. chapter, Oakland ACORN, One Stop Immigration Counselor, Online Policy Group, Our City, People’s CORE, People Organized for Westside Renewal, Pride at Work San Francisco, Progressive Jewish Alliance, Public Advocates, P.U.E.B.L.O., Rainbow – PUSH, Public Counsel, San Francisco Human Rights Commission, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Assn., Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, Union de Vecinos, Valley Women’s Club, Western Center on Law and Poverty

California Democratic Party, Democratic Women’s Club, 8 Democratic Clubs: Laguna Woods, Alice B. Toklas LGBT, Burbank, Harvey Milk LGBT, Pasadena Foothills, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Monica, and Women of Placer Co.

Seniors’ Associations

AARP, Calif. Alliance for Retired Americans, Older Women’s League of California, Gray Panthers California, California Senior Advocates League, San Francisco Gray Panthers, Senior Action Network, Senior Council

Taxpayers’ Associations

California Tax Reform Assn., San Diego County Taxpayers Assn.

Calif. National Organization for Women (NOW), Calif. Women’s Agenda, Center for Young Women’s Development

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.