Phony Eminent Domain Ballot Measure Hard Pill to Swallow: Californians for Property Rights Protection, 11/28/07

news release

Experts Call Measure Flawed and Expose Deceptive Poison Pill Provision

Today, a broad-based coalition of eminent domain reform advocates condemned a ploy by redevelopment interests to qualify a deceptive ballot measure. These redevelopment interests drafted their measure to maintain the state’s abusive eminent domain practices and have financed their effort almost exclusively with anonymous campaign funds.

Independent experts agree that the so-called “Homeowners and Private Property Protection Act” - sponsored by taxpayer-financed organizations such as the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the California Redevelopment Association - will not have any substantive impact on reforming eminent domain abuses in California. The measure will continue to allow government to seize homes, small businesses, farmland and places of worship from unwilling sellers to financially benefit other private interests. According to the State of California’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, the ballot measure “is not likely to significantly alter current government land acquisition practices.”

“Redevelopment interests are spending millions of dollars to qualify a ballot measure that simply protects the kinds of abusive eminent domain practices that threaten all private property,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “Clearly, these special interests that benefit from the forcible seizure of homes and businesses think that they can fool voters and derail legitimate reform efforts.”

“It comes as no surprise that the redevelopment industry’s ballot measure does not include any protections for business property, family farms or places of worship, while including a number of clever loopholes that render the purported homeowner protections meaningless,” said former Senator Jim Nielsen, chairman of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. “Californians should reject the deceptive measure paid for by the redevelopment industry and, instead, support the California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act which provides real eminent domain reforms.”

“While small business owners provide 90 percent of all California jobs, they are also the most common victims of eminent domain abuse,” said John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)/California. “It is disappointing that this ballot measure excludes protections for employers who create jobs and keep our economy strong.”

And according to the Institute for Justice (IJ), the non-profit organization that litigated the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo v. New London decision, “In the end, the Act will provide insubstantial protection against the use of eminent domain for private commercial development. Small business owners will continue to lose not only their buildings, but also their incomes. All farmers and working class renters are vulnerable. Californians require real, substantive reform for everyone and the Act does not come close to providing it.”

Moreover IJ indentifies a poison pill provision that is clearly the only purpose of the ballot measure, “In addition, the Act contains a provision that would nullify any other attempts to amend Article I, Section 19 of the constitution-a clear attack on another ballot measure, which promises broad-reaching, non-discriminatory protection of homes, farms, business and houses of worship from the abuse of eminent domain. Filed by a group consisting of the California Farm Bureau Federation, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights, the "California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act" ("CPOFPA") may appear on the same 2008 ballot. In the event that both pass, the Act's specific provision would wipe out CPOFPA in its entirety.”

Early this month, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and other proponents of private property rights uncovered that more than 80% of the funds used to support the “Homeowners and Private Property Protection Act” has come from taxpayer-financed groups using political accounts that do not disclose the source of contributors like traditional campaign committees. During the last two years, the taxpayer-financed groups have become increasingly dependent on these anonymous campaign accounts. This trend has raised concerns that taxpayer dollars may be a primary source of the millions of dollars spent in support of the so-called “Homeowners and Private Property Protection Act.” Evidence indicates that the redevelopment interests spent $3.75 per signature to qualify their deceptive initiative, more than twice the going market rate.

A competing ballot measure that provides legitimate eminent domain reforms, the California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act, is sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation and the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. The measure prohibits private to private takings, while allowing traditional uses of eminent domain for roads, schools and water projects. It is endorsed by NFIB, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Black Chamber of Commerce and a diverse coalition of taxpayer, faith and good government organizations.

Californians for Property Rights Protection: www.yesonpropertyrights.com