My Turn: Prop 98 protects private property rights
The campaigns for Propositions 98 and 99 on the June 3 ballot are getting heated, and it would be no surprise if most California voters are confused by the two eminent domain-related measures.
As often occurs in political campaigns, one side or the other misrepresents the purpose of its initiative.
For instance, Prop 99’s supporters claim the measure will stop eminent domain abuses that have become well known following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelodecision allowing cities to take property from individual owners and hand it over to developers who promise to enhance a city’s tax base.
Prop 99 is backed by government groups who want to continue to abuse eminent domain, including taxpayer-backed organizations such as the League of California Cities and the California Redevelopment Association.
How can they claim to be protecting private property rights when their initiative ” Prop 99 ” is designed to protect a status quo that is against property rights?
These groups know voters are angry that cities can take their property ” not only for public uses such as highways, but to enrich developers who want the land for cheap.
Local residents have seen entire neighborhoods, churches and small businesses targeted by this practice. The supporters of eminent domain abuse don’t dare put a pro-eminent domain measure on the ballot.
They instead offer a measure that pretends to reform eminent domain laws but is filled with loopholes.
Some homeowners would be protected, but churches, farms, apartment owners and businesses would still be subject to these unfair takings.
The Prop 99 crowd hopes this phony initiative lures more votes than Prop 98, which is the real deal: A ban on the use of eminent domain for private projects.
These enemies of property rights also are targeting, through a deceptive campaign, provisions in Prop 98 that would restrict another form of government taking ” rent control.
Rent control not only steals the value of property from owners, but it reduces incentives for the construction of new rental housing and leads to housing shortages and overall higher rents.
But despite the opposition ad campaign, Prop 98 would not throw people out on the streets.
Renters would still enjoy rent-control protections, but rent control would be phased out after they leave.
If both measures pass, the one with the higher number of votes goes into effect.
So I urge support for the real eminent domain reform, Prop 98, and opposition to phony reform, Prop 99.
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