County may let voters curb eminent domain: Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise, 7/28/06

By Duane W. Gang

San Bernardino County [CA] Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus proposed a ballot measure Thursday that, if approved by voters, would ban the county from using eminent domain to give land to a private developer.

Supervisors will vote Tuesday on whether to place the measure, which would amend the county's charter, on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Connecticut law last year allowing the use of eminent domain for economic- development purposes, Postmus has heard from residents concerned about the court's decision.

"Just because a piece of property might generate more tax revenue under another use should not give government the right to take that property," Postmus said in a statement.

"The role of government is to protect its citizens, not to harm them," he said. "This power must be limited, and used only for necessary public purposes such as highways and flood-control projects."

Postmus did not respond to a request for an interview.

His chief of staff, Brad Mitzelfelt, said the current board would not abuse eminent domain but won't be around forever. The ballot measure "provides a guarantee," he said.

Riverside Press-Enterprise: http://www.pe.com