California Proposition 99, Rules Governing Eminent Domain (June 2008)
62% of voters endorsed Proposition 99, while 38.4% of voters in the low-turnout election approved of its bitter rival, Proposition 98.
Proposition 99 prohibits state and local governments from acquiring an owner-occupied residence for the purpose of conveying it to another person, with certain listed exceptions. Proposition 99 does not change current rules regarding use of eminent domain for businesses.
- See also: June 3, 2008 California election results
|California Proposition 99|
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The added sections read as follows:
- (b) The State and local governments are prohibited from acquiring by eminent domain an owner-occupied residence for the purpose of conveying it to a private person.
- (c) Subdivision (b) of this section does not apply when State or local government exercises the power of eminent domain for the purpose of protecting public health and safety; preventing serious, repeated criminal activity; responding to an emergency; or remedying environmental contamination that poses a threat to public health and safety.
- (d) Subdivision (b) of this section does not apply when State or local government exercises the power of eminent domain for the purpose of acquiring private property for a public work or improvement.6.
In the wake of the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London, a number of states have enacted legislation to rein in what many voters in those states saw as a potential for eminent domain abuse.
Proposition 90, an eminent domain reform measure that also would have significantly restricted the extent to which the government could engage in regulatory takings and would also have repealed rent control, lost 52-48% in 2006. In June 2008, the eminent domain ballot battle will be re-joined again, this time between Proposition 98--which opponents say incorporates issues unrelated to eminent domain--and Proposition 99--which opponents said does not go far enough.
Text of measure
The ballot title was:
The official summary provided to describe Proposition 99 said:
- Bars state and local governments from using eminent domain to acquire an owner-occupied residence, as defined, for conveyance to a private person or business entity.
- Creates exceptions for public work or improvement, public health and safety protection, and crime prevention.
- See also: Fiscal impact statement
The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:
- "No significant fiscal impact on state or local governments."
The official voter guide arguments in favor of Proposition 99 were signed by:
- Ken Willis, president, League of California Homeowners
- Nan Brasmer, president, California Alliance for Retired Americans
- Janis R. Hirohama, president, League of Women Voters of California
- Richard Word, president, California Police Chiefs Association
Notable groups supporting Proposition 99 included the League of Women Voters of California, California Democratic Party, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Gray Panthers California, California Police and Fire Chiefs Associations, California League of Conservation Voters, Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon California, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, The Trust for Public Land, Greenbelt Alliance, Housing California, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Coalition for Economic Survival, Eviction Defense Collaborative, Tenants Together, Mercy Housing California, California Labor Federation, SEIU California State Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees(AFSCME), Consumer Federation of California, Consumers Coalition of California, American Civil Liberties Union, Northern California, California Tax Reform Association, League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties, Californians for Neighborhood Protection, and the League of California Homeowners.
Public officials supporting Proposition 99 included Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, California State Assembly member Hector De La Torre, State Assembly member Mark Leno, State Senator Carole Migden, California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, California State Senator Patricia Wiggins, and Former California State Assemblymember Fran Pavley.
Arguments in favor
Supporters of Proposition 99 argued that the proposition would prohibit government from using eminent domain to take a home to transfer it to a private developer, while avoiding what they saw as the overreach of Proposition 98.
Proposition 99 supporters argued that eminent domain should only be restricted in cases where a family home is being seized to benefit a private developer, in contradistinction to supporters of Proposition 98, who thought that protections against eminent domain seizures should also apply to farmers, small businesses, second homes, and rented homes.
$15,600,929 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 98 by seven different campaign committees.
Donors of $100,000 and over were:
|League of California Cities||$5,761,347|
|California League of Conservation Voters||$2,900,000|
|California State Association of Counties||$1,196,935|
|California State Council of Service Employees||$900,000|
|California Redevelopment Association||$506,758|
|California Teachers Association||$350,000|
|State Building & Construction Trades Council||$275,000|
|California Public Securities Association||$275,000|
|California Alliance for Jobs||$250,000|
|Peninsula Open Space Trust||$250,000|
|National Audubon Society||$250,000|
|SEIU Local 1000||$200,000|
|California Conservation Campaign||$100,000|
|California State Association of Electrical Workers||$100,000|
|California State Pipe Trades Council||$100,000|
|Environmental Defense Action Fund||$100,000|
|Forest City Residential West||$100,000|
|Natural Resources Defense Council||$100,000|
|Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters||$100,000|
The official voter guide arguments opposing Proposition 99 were signed by:
- Jon Coupal, president, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
- Doug Mosebar, president, California Farm Bureau
- Steve L. Caughran, 2007 California Small Business Owner of the Year, National Federation of Independent Business
Proposition 99 met with disapproval from some California property rights groups. The National Federation of Independent Business formally announced its opposition in October 2007, basing its opposition on an analysis released by the Institute for Justice which said:
- "The Act will provide insubstantial protection against the use of eminent domain for private commerical 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."</blockquote>
Opponents quoted the California Legislative Analyst's Office review of the measure which said, "[Proposition 99] is not likely to significantly alter current government land acquisition practices."
Eminent domain reform groups also argued that Proposition 99 was a Trojan Horse, intended to confuse voters by offering only a weak protection against eminent domain seizures. They noted that Proposition 99 was sponsored by the League of California Cities, which in 2006 spent over $5,000,000 to defeat Proposition 90, an eminent domain reform measure that appeared on the November 2006 ballot and lost narrowly.
According to property rights analyst Timothy Sandefur, who works for the Pacific Legal Foundation, "The fact is that Proposition 99 would not protect anyone in California from eminent domain abuse. It would not apply at all to small businesses, which are the most common victims of eminent domain. It would not protect people living in apartments at all. It would not protect farms, or churches. It would only protect 'owner occupied residences.' And in fact, it would not even protect them, because the small print in the initiative eliminates such protections in almost every case of eminent domain abuse."
No campaign committee was registered in opposition to Proposition 99. This is because Proposition 99's opponents, instead of specifically organizing to fight Proposition 99, devoted their efforts to campaigning in favor of Proposition 98. $6,992,782 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 98.
Donors of $100,000 and over to the "Yes on 98" campaign were:
|California Association of Realtors||$711,250|
|Apartment Owners Association||$568,218|
|California Farm Bureau Federation||$406,957|
|Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association||$389,424|
|Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association||$205,677|
|Vedder Community Management||$171,825|
|Orange County Property Rights PAC||$125,000|
|Hometown America LLC||$123,680|
|California Tropics Investors||$100,000|
|Equity Lifestyle Properties||$100,000|
|Friedkin Realty Management Group||$100,000|
Path to the ballot
- See also: California signature requirements
As an initiated constitutional amendment, 694,354 signatures were required to qualify Proposition 99 for the ballot.
The supporters of Proposition 99 hired Progressive Campaigns, Inc. to collect signatures at an overall cost of $3,559,970. Competing measure Proposition 98, for which signature gathering began significantly earlier, paid Arno Political Consultants $1,583,000 to qualify for the ballot.
Effect of competing initiatives
- See also: Poison pill (ballot measures)
Proposition 99 included a provision that would nullify any other attempts to amend Article I, Section 19 of the California Constitution that were on the same ballot. Such a provision is common when multiple ballot items on the same subject are on the same ballot. The so-called "poison pill" language blocks conflicting pieces of law when one measure has more votes than the other.
- California Proposition 98, Eminent Domain and Rent Control (June 2008)
- California Proposition 90, Limits on Government's Power of Eminent Domain (2006)
- Laws governing the initiative process in California
- California 2008 ballot propositions
- Campaign finance requirements for California ballot measures
- Official Voter Information Guide : Proposition 99
- PDF of the mailed June 3, 2008 voter guide for Proposition 99
- June 3, 2008 ballot proposition election returns
- Proposition 99 in the Smart Voter Guide
- Analysis of Proposition 99 from the Institute of Governmental Studies
- Guide to Proposition 99 from the California Voter Foundation
- Summary of donors to and against 99 from Cal-Access
- Donors for and against Proposition 99 from Follow The Money
- Eminent Domain Reform Now Official website of Proposition 99 supporters
- The Truth about Proposition 99, website opposing Proposition 99
- League Board Supports 'Homeowners Protection Act' Initiative
- Son of Prop 90: A Wolf if There Ever Was One in Sheep's Clothing
- Rent control key to one of two ballot initiatives, San Diego Union-Tribune, May 4, 2008
- Defend our cities; vote no on Proposition 98, Editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, May 4, 2008
- Fighting eminent domain abuse in California, Redstate
- What to make of Props 98 and 99, Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2008.
- Do we vote or strike?
- Don't count on Proposition 99, May 19, 2008
- Eminent Domain Targeted by Propositions 98 and 99
- ↑ MONDAQ, "What Passage Of Proposition 99 Means To The California Homeowner", July 10, 2009
- ↑ Fiscal Impact Statement for Proposition 98
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 California Voter Guide, "Arguments for and against Proposition 99"
- ↑ Follow the Money, "Donors to Yes on 99"
- ↑ NFIB Opposes League of California Cities Eminent Domain Ballot Measure
- ↑ Reuters, "Experts call Measure Flawed and Expose Deceptive Poison Pill Provision", November 29, 2007
- ↑ Timothy Sandefur, "The Deep Dishonesty of Prop 99", May 13, 2008
- ↑ Follow the Money, "Donors to Yes on 98"
- ↑ Expenditures of the Eminent Domain Reform Now committee
- ↑ Proposition 98 campaign expenditure details