Prop 90: Well beyond private property rights | SierraSun.com

Prop 90: Well beyond private property rights

Robert M. Weygandt

Placer County citizens share the general public’s concern over unjustified seizure of private property by cities, counties or states. The Supreme Court decision, Kelo vs. City of New London, is bad law and appropriate and intelligent measures ought to be taken to be sure government is severed from its ability to pursue condemnation for the purpose of “economic development.”

This is why the Placer County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of ACA22 (La Malfa) and SCA 15 (McClintock) to stop such action in California. It is unfortunate these bills did not progress through the Legislature and become law that would have prevented further Kelo decisions in California.

It is equally unfortunate that the architects of Proposition 90 committed their own abuse by extending its scope far beyond the issue of unjustified seizure of property. Had they stopped where they should have, I would have wholeheartedly supported this proposition and it would have earned the support of the Placer County Board of Supervisors. They did not stop where they should have.

Instead, they extended the authority of Proposition 90 well beyond private property rights with a draconian approach that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars if it were to pass. Local government would not have the authority and flexibility to act in the best interests of its citizens.

Good local governance is exemplified in how Placer County did act in the update of the Martis Valley Community Plan. Through literally hundreds of hours of meetings, both public and private, the holding capacity of the plan was reduced by more than 50 percent, in order to better reflect current infrastructure constraints as well as the desires of the population. We did this without condemning any properties and without litigation from the affected property owners.

Prop 90 would have cost Placer County taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars if these property owners demanded compensation for their theoretical “loss of value” due to “down-zonings.”

Is opening the door to more expensive litigation what we want by accepting a “one-size-fits-all” solution? Or do we want our local folks to have the chance to work out their own agreements, as exemplified in the new Martis Valley Community Plan?

Keep it simple and specific. This is what the architects of Proposition 90 forgot. It is no surprise that the Placer County Board of Supervisors refused to endorse this “over-extension” of the original good idea.

That is why a majority of the Placer County Board of Supervisors did not endorse Proposition 90 and why it is opposed by such diverse groups as the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), League of California Cities, California Taxpayers’ Association, California Farm Bureau, the Sierra Club, and Governor Schwarzenegger, among hundreds of others.