Proposition 90 is Trojan Horse |

Proposition 90 is Trojan Horse

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until Election Day.

The television ads for California candidates and initiatives are prolific and negative, but nothing compared to the radio commercials I hear for Nevada candidates. There is no truth in advertising, that’s for sure. It’s ugly out there.

My rule of thumb: The nastier a candidate trashes the opponent, the more I move toward the opponent. When oil companies tell me they want to keep the price down on gasoline, I really get nervous. When tobacco companies sponsor a so-called no-smoking initiative (Proposition 4 – Nevada), I go off the charts.

With all the high-profile candidates and propositions on the ballot, one has been conspicuously off the radar ” Proposition 90, last on the California ballot.

Prop 90 appears to be a no-brainer reform of eminent domain, where the government has the power to condemn private property for public use.

Government entities seldom use eminent domain because it is powerful and can be controversial. The little Town of Truckee has never exercised its condemnation powers.

Prop 90 makes it practically impossible for government to condemn property for public use or public good. You can argue that’s good. You can argue that’s not so good.

If that’s all there was to Prop 90, I wouldn’t be writing this column.

Prop 90 is a Trojan Horse. Under the guise of cleaning up condemnation law, it requires compensation for any government action that might result in a “substantial loss of value” to private property. That is overboard. It will cost us taxpayers a bundle.

Under Prop 90, compensation could be due when a municipality restricts use of a piece of property with rezoning or a general plan change or limits access to property or mandates critical habitat set aside areas.

Some experts contend Prop 90 applies not only to land and buildings but also to government regulations concerning employment, consumer laws, licensing and permitting. Get denied a license, sue for the “substantial loss of value” to your business.

Prop 90 is an attorney’s full employment act. It changes long-established law and will be litigated for decades. And I am a land-use lawyer.

Prop 90 is opposed by both sides of the aisle, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Taxpayers Association, the California Labor Federation, the California Farm Bureau, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters ” and lots more.

Vote as you will, but take the time to read the fine print in this proposition, financed by out-of-state private property rights advocates.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter· Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno. He is a mediator and was the governor’s appointee to the Bipartisan McPherson Commission and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. He may be reached at or at the firm’s Web site,

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