May 16, 2008

Upcoming California Legislation & Eminent Domain

Several of you have asked for advise on the upcoming California Propositions 98 & 99, and their impact on Eminent Domain.

First though, what is Eminent Domain?

That's when local, city, state, or federal government groups take private property from an individual (or family) for "public use". The state delegates eminent domain power to certain public and private companies (typically utilities) such that they can bring eminent domain actions to run telephone, power, water, or gas lines. In most countries, including the United States (under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution) the owner of any appropriated land is entitled to reasonable compensation, usually defined as the fair market value of the property. Proceedings to take land under eminent domain are typically referred to as "condemnation" proceedings.

OK, so what is the fuss with Propositions 98 & 99?

We went out to the California Association of Realtors web site to get some details.

A tangent too.... Do you know who the 3 largest lobbyist groups in the United States are working for? A Real Estate Finance professor once pointed it out to me:

#1 is the NRA (National Rifle Association)
#2 is the NAR (National Association of Realtors)
#3 are the Oil Company lobbyists.

Politics aren't discussed here, but know that the group in the #2 position fights time and time again for private property rights. They also fight for more legislation to keep home ownership the best vehicle for building a family's financial future.

So? Their advise on this particular matter is probably pretty good.

Here's what they had to say:

Vote YES on Proposition 98 and
Vote NO on Proposition 99
on the June Ballot

Local governments are abusing eminent domain to seize homes to give to private developers. It’s a rotten deal for Home Owners. Here are some real examples of eminent domain abuse:

-In Baldwin Park, CA, the city is threatening to use eminent domain to take 400 homes and businesses so developers can build new, higher cost retail and housing.
Los Angeles Business Journal, April 7, 2008

-In Vista, CA, city officials are attempting to classify 37% of the city as “blighted,” making it easier to seize properties within that area.
San Diego Union Tribune, April 13, 2008

SOLUTION: the June Ballot
REALTORS® – Support Proposition 98 and oppose Proposition 99.

The Solution -- Proposition 98:
-Provides real protection for homeowners.
-Limits eminent domain to legitimate public use.
-Prohibits price controls on private property.

Proposition 99 is a TRICK designed to maintain the status quo. It is particularly dangerous because if both propositions pass and Proposition 99 gets more votes, it CANCELS OUT Proposition 98.

Remember, YES on 98. NO on 99.

A YES vote on both measures is a vote against Proposition 98.

Thanks to CAR for the insight,

- Jim

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