Phony California Eminent Domain Ballot Measure Hard Pill to Swallow

Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:16pm EST

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Experts Call Measure Flawed and Expose Deceptive Poison Pill ProvisionSACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, a broad-based coalitionof eminent domain reform advocates condemned a ploy by redevelopment intereststo qualify a deceptive ballot measure. These redevelopment interests draftedtheir measure to maintain the state's abusive eminent domain practices andhave financed their effort almost exclusively with anonymous campaign funds.

Independent experts agree that the so-called "Homeowners and PrivateProperty Protection Act" -- sponsored by taxpayer-financed organizations suchas the League of California Cities, the California State Association ofCounties and the California Redevelopment Association -- will not have anysubstantive impact on reforming eminent domain abuses in California. Themeasure will continue to allow government to seize homes, small businesses,farmland and places of worship from unwilling sellers to financially benefitother private interests. According to the State of California's non-partisanLegislative Analyst's Office, the ballot measure "is not likely tosignificantly alter current government land acquisition practices."

"Redevelopment interests are spending millions of dollars to qualify aballot measure that simply protects the kinds of abusive eminent domainpractices that threaten all private property," said Jon Coupal, president ofthe Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "Clearly, these special intereststhat benefit from the forcible seizure of homes and businesses think that theycan fool voters and derail legitimate reform efforts."

"It comes as no surprise that the redevelopment industry's ballot measuredoes not include any protections for business property, family farms or placesof worship, while including a number of clever loopholes that render thepurported 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 theredevelopment industry and, instead, support the California Property Ownersand 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 JohnKabateck, executive director of the National Federation of IndependentBusiness (NFIB)/California. "It is disappointing that this ballot measureexcludes protections for employers who create jobs and keep our economystrong."

And according to the Institute for Justice (IJ), the non-profitorganization that litigated the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo v. New Londondecision, "In the end, the Act will provide insubstantial protection againstthe use of eminent domain for private commercial development. Small businessowners will continue to lose not only their buildings, but also their incomes.All farmers and working class renters are vulnerable. Californians requirereal, substantive reform for everyone and the Act does not come close toproviding it."

Moreover IJ identifies a poison pill provision that is clearly the onlypurpose of the ballot measure, "In addition, the Act contains a provision thatwould nullify any other attempts to amend Article I, Section 19 of theconstitution -- a clear attack on another ballot measure, which promisesbroad-reaching, non-discriminatory protection of homes, farms, business andhouses of worship from the abuse of eminent domain. Filed by a groupconsisting of the California Farm Bureau Federation, Howard Jarvis TaxpayersAssociation and California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights, the"California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act" ("CPOFPA") may appearon the same 2008 ballot. In the event that both pass, the Act's specificprovision would wipe out CPOFPA in its entirety."

Early this month, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and otherproponents of private property rights uncovered that more than 80% of thefunds used to support the "Homeowners and Private Property Protection Act" hascome from taxpayer-financed groups using political accounts that do notdisclose the source of contributors like traditional campaign committees.During the last two years, the taxpayer-financed groups have becomeincreasingly dependent on these anonymous campaign accounts. This trend hasraised concerns that taxpayer dollars may be a primary source of the millionsof dollars spent in support of the so-called "Homeowners and Private PropertyProtection Act." Evidence indicates that the redevelopment interests spent$3.75 per signature to qualify their deceptive initiative, more than twice thegoing market rate.

A competing ballot measure that provides legitimate eminent domainreforms, the California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act, issponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (http://www.hjta.org),the California Farm Bureau Federation (http://www.cfbf.com) and the CaliforniaAlliance to Protect Private Property Rights

(http://www.calpropertyrights.com). The measure prohibits private to privatetakings, while allowing traditional uses of eminent domain for roads, schoolsand water projects. It is endorsed by NFIB, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,the Black Chamber of Commerce and a diverse coalition of taxpayer, faith andgood government organizations. For more campaign information, visitCalifornians for Property Rights Protection athttp://www.yesonpropertyrights.com.SOURCE Californians for Property Rights ProtectionMarko Mlikotin of Californians for Property Rights Protection,+1-916-444-8781; or Michelle Orrock of NFIB, +1-916-448-9904

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