Differing views on Proposition 90
October 31, 2006
An interesting subplot in the California State Assembly District 4 race is that my opponent Ted Gaines and I both come from fifth-generation Placer County agriculture families.
Ted’s great-great grandfather raised wheat near Roseville in the late 1800s, while my great-great grandfather founded an olive oil company in Auburn. However, while we have an agricultural heritage in common, we’ve come to very different conclusions about the kind of legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren.
There is one key issue that starkly illustrates our different visions: Proposition 90.
At the Oct. 10, 2006 Placer County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Gaines, along with Supervisor Bruce Kranz, introduced a resolution asking the board to support Proposition 90, the alleged “eminent domain” proposition. In a highly unusual move, Gaines’ invited one of the most extreme members of the Republican Assembly caucus, Doug LaMalfa, to do a dog-and-pony show in support of Prop 90. Despite the theatrics, supervisors Jim Holmes, Robert Weygandt, and Bill Santucci voted down the resolution and, in the process, kept Placer County from becoming a statewide embarrassment.
Prop 90 contains a clause unrelated to eminent domain that would require any governmental action that reduces property value to be compensated. The vague wording of this clause would lead to an avalanche of lawsuits. Cities and counties would be unable to tell a developer their project is too big, or that they can’t put a polluting factory in a residential neighborhood, or require any reasonable restrictions because local governments would not have the funds to pay a landowner perceived “damages,” or to defend themselves against a lawsuit.
In Oregon, a similar measure has resulted in more than $6 billion in claims against local and state government in just two years.
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It is incomprehensible that a sitting supervisor would support such a scheme. This measure effectively destroys the ability of local governments to make land use planning decisions. The concept of “smart growth” is rendered meaningless.
Proposition 90 is so extreme that virtually every reputable organization imaginable is against it. Organizations on opposite sides of most legislative arguments have lined up to say “no.”
If passed, Prop 90 would cost California taxpayers billions of dollars and that’s why I join the California Taxpayer’s Association, homeowner groups and every major public safety, environmental, educational, business and organized labor group in the state in opposing it. It’s also opposed by the California Farm Bureau Federation, the California Small Business Association, California Sierra Club, and the California Chamber of Commerce.
Gaines’ support and promotion of this dangerous proposition shows a lack of vision, which would have devastating long-term consequences in our region. The quality of life in our region is already severely stressed by fast-growing suburban sprawl in the foothills. What we need in Sacramento are more leaders, not rubberstamps for multi-millionaire developers and partisan extremists.
Rob Haswell, a fifth-generation Gold Country Californian, resides in Auburn with his family and is the Democratic candidate for California State Assembly, District 4.