California Proposition 90, Limits on Government's Power of Eminent Domain (2006)

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California Proposition 90 was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.

Proposition 90, if it had been approved, would have accomplished two things:

  • It would have reduced the ability of government entities in the state to take property away from private property owners under eminent domain by restricting the purposes for which government may take property, increasing the amount that government would have had to pay owners if it did take their property and by requiring the government to sell property back to its original owners if the government did not end up using the property for the reasons it stated when it took it.
  • It would have required government entities in the state to compensate property owners for their lost property value if the government entity passed new laws or rules that resulted in substantial economic losses to their property.

Two years after Proposition 90 was on the ballot, a pair of competing initiatives -- Proposition 98 and Proposition 99 -- were on the ballot. Propositions 98 and 99 also dealt with eminent domain reform. Proposition 99 was approved.

Proposition 90 was one of 12 eminent domain-related ballot measures throughout the country on the 2006 ballot.

Election results

Proposition 90
Defeatedd No4,324,72252.4%
Yes 3,932,043 47.6%

Constitutional changes

If Proposition 90 had been approved, it would have amended Section 19 of Article I of the California Constitution.

Text of measure


Proposition 90 2006.PNG

The ballot title was:

Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.


The question on the ballot was:

"Should the California Constitution be amended to require that government entities pay property owners for substantial economic losses resulting from some new laws and regulations, and limit government authority to take ownership of private property?"


The official summary provided to describe Proposition 90 said:

  • Bars state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property to promote other private projects or uses.
  • Limits government’s authority to adopt certain land use, housing, consumer, environmental and workplace laws and regulations, except when necessary to preserve public health or safety.
  • Voids unpublished eminent domain court decisions.
  • Defines "just compensation."
  • Government must occupy condemned property or lease property for public use.
  • Condemned private property must be offered for resale to prior owner or owner’s heir at current fair market value if government abandons condemnation’s objective.
  • Exempts certain governmental actions.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

  • "Increased annual state and local government costs to pay property owners for (1) losses to their property associated with certain new laws and rules, and (2) property acquisitions. The amount of such costs is unknown, but potentially significant on a statewide basis."



The official voter guide arguments in favor of Proposition 90 were signed by:

  • Manuel Romero
  • Bob Blue
  • Pastor Roem Agustin
  • Mimi Walters, Honorary Chair, California Protect Our Homes Coalition
  • Martyn B. Hopper, California Director, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
  • John M. Revelli[1]

Arguments in favor

Supporters of Proposition 90 offered these arguments in the official voter guide in favor of a "yes" vote:

"Local governments can take homes, businesses, and churches through unfair use of eminent domain. They can also take away your property value with the stroke of a pen. We are three average Californians, and it happened to us. Local governments unfairly tried to take our property away from us and turn it over to developers to build condos, hotels, and other commercial projects. Why? Because these developers are politically connected, and their projects will generate more tax revenue for local governments. If government can take our property, it can take yours too."
  • "Manuel Romero had eminent domain used against his family restaurant so that a Mercedes-Benz dealership next door could use the space for a parking lot."
  • "Bob Blue had eminent domain used against his small luggage store—in his family for almost sixty years—so that a luxury hotel could be built."
  • "Pastor Roem Agustin had his church threatened with condemnation so that a developer could build condominiums."
  • "It’s wrong for senior citizens, small business owners, or anyone who can’t fight back to be forced to give up their property so wealthy developers can build giant retail stores, shopping malls, and upscale housing developments."
  • "When governments pass regulations that reduce the value of your property, it’s called regulatory taking. When this happens you should be compensated by the government for your lost value."
  • "Government should not be able to take your home—outright or through regulations that reduce the value of your property—without it being for a legitimate PUBLIC use and without paying for what it takes."[1]


Voting on Property
Ballot Measures
By state
By year
Not on ballot
$4,046,550 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 90.[2]

Donors of $100,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
Fund for Democracy $1,500,000
Americans for Limited Government $1,000,000
Montanans in Action $600,000
Club for Growth $220,000
Fieldstead & Co. $213,908



Robert Redford was a prominent opponent, arguing in letter dated October 24, 2006 that "Prop 90 is the single most dangerous threat that has ever been leveled at our state's environment."[3]

The official voter guide arguments opposing Proposition 90 were signed by:

  • Michael L. Warren, president, California Fire Chiefs Association
  • Steve Krull, president, California Police Chiefs Association
  • Edward Thompson, Jr., California director, American Farmland Trust
  • Kenneth W. Willis, president, League of California Homeowners
  • Jacqueline Jacobberger, president, League of Women Voters of California[1]

Arguments against

Arguments made in opposition to Proposition 90 in the official voter guide included:

  • "The handful of wealthy landowners that paid to put Proposition 90 on the ballot are trying a classic bait and switch on California voters. They want you to believe Proposition 90 is about eminent domain. That’s the bait. But, hidden in the fine print of the measure is the trap—a far-reaching section unrelated to eminent domain that would lead to huge new costs for all California taxpayers."
  • "Proposition 90 would change California’s constitution to enable large landowners and corporations to demand huge payouts from state and local taxpayers just by claiming a law has harmed the value of their property or business—no matter how important the law may be or far-fetched the claim."
  • "According to William G. Hamm, formerly California’s nonpartisan legislative analyst, 'PROP. 90 could require BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN NEW TAXPAYER COSTS EACH YEAR, if communities and the state continue to pass or enforce basic laws to protect neighborhoods, limit unwanted development, protect the environment, restrict unsavory businesses, and protect consumers.'"
  • "With no limit on the total costs, Proposition 90 traps taxpayers into signing a blank check. We all pay, while large landowners and corporations reap windfall payouts."
  • "Proposition 90 would lead to thousands of expensive lawsuits that would tie up our courts and result in added bureaucracy and red tape."
  • "PROP. 90 would trap taxpayers in a LOSE-LOSE situation. If communities act to protect their quality of life, taxpayers could be forced to make huge payouts. Or, if communities couldn’t afford the payouts, basic quality-of-life protections simply couldn’t be enacted."[1]


$14,338,764 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "no" vote on Proposition 90.[4][5]

Donor Amount
League of California Cities $4,085,000
Building & Construction Trades Council of California $1,000,000
Nature Conservancy $1,164,245
California State Association of Counties $650,000
California Redevelopment Association $560,381
California Public Securities Association $500,000
California State Council of Service Employees $400,000
California Teachers Association $250,000
Pacific Gas & Electric $250,000
Claire E. Perry $200,000
Forest City Residential West $250,000
Edison International $200,000
California Building Industry Association $200,000
Sempra Energy $150,000
Herbert M. Sandler $100,000
Leaders for an Effective Government $100,000
California Nations Indian Gaming Association $100,000
HB Capital Resources $100,000
California Association of Realtors $100,000

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements

As an initiated constitutional amendment, 598,105 valid signatures were required to qualify Proposition 90 for the ballot.

Arno Political Consultants was paid $1,788,706.00 to collect the signatures.[6]

See also: California ballot initiative petition signature costs

External links

Suggest a link

Additional reading