Institute for Justice Analysis of Prop 98 Part 2 of 2

[Editor’s Note: Thanks to Larry Gilbert for providing OJ its four-thousandth post! SMS]

In my prior report I published an independent Analysis of the California Ballot Measure Prop 99 that appears on the June 3rd statewide ballot. As posted previously I offer the following quote describing the source of these two legal opinions.

“The Institute for Justice has become a major pillar of our free society.
In area after area—economic liberty, school choice, private property rights—it has provided legal defense against assaults on human freedom.
In the process, it has strengthened and deepened liberty.”

—Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman

“Analysis of Proposition 98” April 10, 2008

Proposition 98, the California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act (“Prop 98”), will stop eminent domain abuse–the forcible acquisition of property by local governments for private development. This constitutional amendment will appear on the June 2008 ballot.

Prop 98 very simply states: “Private property may not be taken or damaged for private use,” an explicit prohibition on the use of eminent domain to take property from home and small business owners to build luxury condominiums and big box stores. This unambiguous protection is necessary because California is one of the biggest abusers of eminent domain in the country. Indeed, over the years, the Institute for Justice has found more than 1,000 abuses of the government’s power of eminent domain in California; these abuses would be blocked under the language proposed in Prop 98. IJ is currently fighting one such abuse in National City which has authorized using eminent domain to bulldoze a community athletic center for high-end housing under a bogus blight declaration.

While Prop 98 would stop governments and redevelopment agencies from taking property for private uses, traditional uses of eminent domain for public use would not be affected. Roads and bridges will be built. Water projects such as drainage ditches, sewers, reservoirs, dams and drinking water and irrigation have long been accepted as public uses and that will not change under Prop 98. And eminent domain can still be used to build schools, post offices, sewers and electric lines.

In addition to barring eminent domain for private uses and allowing it for public uses, Prop 98 includes compensation and procedural reforms. Though it does have a provision regarding contracts between a private landowner and a lessee, Prop 98 does not incorporate the broad-based regulatory takings language contained in Prop 90, which was narrowly defeated in 2006.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s now infamous case in Kelo v. City of New London, permitting the government to take property from one private individual and transfer it to another for the purpose of economic development, has rightly heightened eminent domain abuse in California, which disproportionately affects minorities, poorer communities and the less educated. Prop 98 restores constitutional protections against eminent domain abuse and would ensure all homes and small businesses, churches and farms remain in the hands of those that own them.

The Institute for Justice is a non-profit, public interest law firm that seeks to protect All Americans from the abuse of eminent domain. IJ litigated the Kelo case before the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Gilbert comment. Regardless of your opinion on these two ballot measures, I urge every reader to vote in this CA primary election. in addition to these two ballot measure each major party has competitive statewide races as well as judicial candidates on the same ballot.

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