Imminent Eminent Domain Rip-Off Threatens California's Environment: California Progress Report, 11/2/07

By Gary A. Patton

Last year, Californians successfully fought off a statewide ballot initiative that used the rhetoric of eminent domain abuse to attempt to undermine a swath of laws protecting our health and environment. Well get ready; it looks like we'll have to fight even harder this year.

Wealthy owners of apartments and mobile home parks are currently collecting signatures to place another initiative on California's June 2008 ballot that they'd like you to believe is about eminent domain. And once again, they're hiding their anti-environment agenda. Tucked into the text of the initiative are provisions that would effectively prohibit laws and regulations that are intended to protect our air, land, water, and coasts from pollution, as well as laws that regulate development and prevent sprawl.

As if this weren't bad enough, the landlords are also using the populist issue of eminent domain reform in an attempt to wipe out rent control laws in California, hurting seniors, single mothers, veterans, and other working families who would lose the only housing they can afford.

A broad-based coalition of environmentalists, local governments, seniors, business, and labor has formed to defeat this measure – with PCL [the Planning and Conservation League] stepping up as an early coalition endorser and supporter. This coalition is promoting a strong, honest eminent domain reform proposal, which would prevent the government from using eminent domain to take a home to transfer to a developer.

The California Homeowner Protection Act doesn't have the hidden agendas or negative consequences of the landlords' scheme. But here's the problem: In order to qualify this measure for the June 2008 ballot, the sponsors need 1.1 million signatures by November 20. Currently they are about halfway to that goal. And while the landlords have money to spare for their signature gathering efforts, the California Homeowner Protection Act supporters are relying on volunteers to help get it over the finish line. That's where you, our faithful readers come in.

Please click here to sign the petition! An official petition that your family, friends, and co-workers can all sign will be mailed to you. Just be sure to mail it back by November 20.

Qualifying this honest eminent domain reform measure for the June 2008 ballot is absolutely critical if we are to defeat the landlords' Hidden Agendas scheme and its devastating impacts on our environment.

For more information, please visit www.EminentDomainReform.com.

Planning and Conservation League: http://www.pcl.org

Gary Patton is the Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League, a statewide, nonprofit lobbying organization.