Prop 90 stirring up concern in region
October 29, 2006
Proposition 90, a ballot measure set to protect private property owners from the actions of government, is stirring up some heat in Truckee.Slated for the November ballot, Proposition 90 is essentially a two-part measure dealing with the limitation of eminent domain or the governments power to seize land for fair market value and the governments ability to regulate property use.Voters in favor of the measure are touting it as a way to restore property owners rights and to stop eminent domain abuse, but those opposed say that the devil is in the fine print.
If passed, Proposition 90 would limit the governments authority to adopt certain land use and workplace laws and regulations, except when necessary to preserve public health or safety. Just about anything (the town) does for the public benefit zoning or any new rule could make them liable to pay the property owner, said Don McCormack, a member of the Truckee Tahoe Airports Airport Community Action Team. If the airport changed the flight path and ran flights over your house, and you thought that it affected the value of your property, you would have a claim.The potential repercussions of Prop 90 have some people at the Town of Truckee concerned about the number of lawsuits that could potentially arise, especially as they consider zoning enforcement, Commercial Row office space and property use regulations, said Dennis Crabb, Truckee town counsel.At this point, the consequences of Prop 90 are still speculation, but Crabb pointed to an example of a similar measure passed in Washington state.The result was two-fold. First the number of claims for economic loss as a result of regulatory activities has exploded, Crabb said. As a result, local government agencies have taken conservative stances towards regulatory activities.Prop 90 makes a concession for existing programs, so the town is working to create programs such as the ordinance for downtown office space, as well as aspects of the General Plan Update to allow the town to regulate development, but whether or not that would be effective is unclear, Crabb said.Truckee will be OK by and large because of language we are putting into the General Plan and because we are open to development, Crabb said.
Besides limiting land use regulations, Prop 90 also stands to bar state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property to promote other private projects or uses.However, the town already has regulations in place limiting eminent domain, said Crabb.The town will not acquire property until there is an external review of the deal to make sure it is fair for the property owner. Crabb said. The town has never used eminent domain, and only will where there are no other alternatives.But while Truckee residents might be able to rest assured, outlying residents might not feel as secure.Im sick of this. Im sick of the government taking advantage of people. They have really gone overboard on public domain, said Calpine resident Johanna Olsen who is favor of passing Prop 90.Olsen, 79, and her husband built an auto shop more than 40 years ago that has been their main source of income for decades. Now, Olsen said, the developer that built condominiums surrounding her property is chomping at the bit to snatch up the shop.Were too old to start over, and even if we got the money, the government is still going to take a third of it, Olsen said. It could be taken, and its part of our income.