California Proposition 98, Eminent Domain and Rent Control (June 2008)
38.4% of voters in the low-turnout election approved of Proposition 98, while 62% endorsed a rival measure, Proposition 99.
Had Proposition 98 passed and earned more affirmative votes than 99, it would have placed constitutional constraints on the ability of local governments to take property from one private owner through the process of eminent domain in California and give it to another private owner. Proposition 98 also would have phased out rent control.,
- See also: June 3, 2008 California election results
|California Proposition 98|
In the wake of the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London, a number of states 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have significantly restricted the extent to which the government could engage in regulatory takings and would also have repealed rent control, lost 52-48% in 2006.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 was re-joined again.
Text of measure
The ballot title was:
The official summary provided to describe Proposition 98 said:
- Bars state and local governments from taking or damaging private property for private uses.
- Prohibits rent control and similar measures.
- Prohibits deference to government in takings cases.
- Defines "just compensation."
- Requires an award of attorneys fees and costs if a property owner obtains a judgment for more than the amount offered by the government.
- Requires government to offer to original owner of condemned property the right to repurchase property at condemned price when property is put to substantially different use than was publicly stated.
- See also: Fiscal impact statement
The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:
- "Increased costs to many governments due to the measure's restrictions. The net statewide fiscal effect, however, probably would not be significant."
Both opponents and proponents of Proposition 98 filed lawsuits against the California Attorney General's office in February 2008 regarding the ballot language. The proponents argued that rent control repeal should not have been mentioned in the description. Proponents argued that the measure's ballot title, set by that office, was misleading because it said nothing about Proposition 98's stance toward rent control. Both lawsuits were unsuccessful.
The California Attorney General agreed that rent control repeal is a chief purpose of Proposition 98, and Judge Frawley concurred, commenting that he might have written it differently had it been his task. However, Judge Frawley concluded that the Attorney General had not gone beyond his discretion in writing the title and description, taken together. In the lawsuit by proponents, the judge rejected the argument that the rent control provisions should not be characterized as "repeal."  
The official voter guide arguments in favor of Proposition 93 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
- Cruz Baca Sembello
- John Revelli
- Joel Ayala, president, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
The official campaign committee supporting Proposition 98 was Californians for Property Rights Protection, which was a project of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Named sponsors on the official filing were Doug Mosebar, Jon Coupal and Jim Nielsen. Other notable supporters included the California Farm Bureau Federation, the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights Committee, the California Republican Party, and the California Association of Realtors.,
Other supporters of Proposition 98 included:
- California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (CHCC)
- Federation of Independent Business, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
- Institute for Justice
Arguments in favor
- Private property may not be taken by eminent domain for private use under any circumstances (e.g., to build a shopping center, auto mall or industrial park).
- Property may be taken by eminent domain only for public use (e.g., freeway construction, parks, schools).
- Property may not be taken by government and then used for the same purpose that it was used for prior to seizure. For example, if residential housing is taken, the government cannot then use it for residential housing.
- Family farms and open space are protected from seizures by government for the purpose of selling the natural resources.
- If a public agency takes property under false pretenses, or abandons its plans, the property must be offered for sale to the original owner at the original price and the property tax would be assessed at the value of the property when it was originally condemned.
- If farmers or business owners are evicted by eminent domain, they would be entitled to compensation for temporary business losses, relocation expenses, business reestablishment costs and other reasonable expenses.
- Government may not set the price at which property owners sell or lease their property.
Sacramento property owner Moe Mohanna travelled the state speaking on behalf of Proposition 98. He said, "I'll be going to different cities, and talking about private property rights, and the taking of private property for private use. Today it is my buildings, tomorrow it is your home.",
$6,992,782 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 98.
Donors of $100,000 or more 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|
The official voter guide arguments opposing Proposition 98 were signed by:
- Jeannine English, California State President, AARP
- Janis R. Hirohama, president, League of Women Voters of California
- Richard Word, president, California Police Chiefs Association
- Dean Preston, co-chair, Coalition to Protect California Renters
- Ken Willis, president, League of California Homeowners
Opponents of Proposition 98 largely overlapped with supporters of Proposition 99. The coalition of groups opposing Proposition 98 included lobbying associations that represent California municipalities, tenant groups, environmental groups, and unions. Public finance firms&emdash;broker/dealers and other for-profit firms that do bond-writing and debt management business with local governments&emdash;also opposed 98. A PAC representing these interests and eight individual broker-dealer, financial advisory and bond counsel companies donated to the campaign to defeat Proposition 98.
Notable groups and individuals opposing 98 included Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Dianne Feinstein, former Governor Pete Wilson, AARP, the League of California Cities, California League of Conservation Voters, the California Teachers Association, SEIU, and the California Chamber of Commerce.
Opponents of Proposition 98 believed that 98 could affect:
- Environmental laws. Opponents believe that it is possible that under the provisions of Prop 98, it would be harder for state agencies to enforce environmental regulations, if those regulations "transfer an economic benefit" from a property owner to another party.
- Public safety;
- Water projects;
- Land use approval processes;
- Zoning restrictions, such as limits on density and the types of uses allowed in particular areas;
- Tenant protections. Rent control clearly would be eliminated for all new tenancies. In addition, other tenant protections such as the return of security deposits, the right to get 60-days notice before eviction, and requirements that landlords have just cause to evict tenants would also be threatened.
$15,608,527 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "no" vote on Proposition 98 by nine 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|
"Yes on 98"
"No on 98"
- Los Angeles Times: "With the ill-considered Proposition 98, property rights advocates once again have undermined themselves and poorly served homeowners, businesspeople and real estate investors by overreaching."
- San Francisco Chronicle: "Proposition 98 is disingenuous and dangerous."
The official web site opposing Proposition 98 listed 70 newspapers that opposed Proposition 98.
Public opinion polls
- See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released a poll in May 2008 that suggested that while Californians were concerned about property rights, they were not convinced that Proposition 98 addressed their concerns. PPIC's March poll showed higher support for 98 than the May poll.,
|Month of Poll||In favor||Opposed||Undecided|
Path to the ballot
- See also: California signature requirements
As an initiated constitutional amendment, 694,354 signatures were required to qualify Proposition 98 for the ballot.
Arno Political Consultants conducted the petition drive to qualify Proposition 98 for the ballot, charging the campaign $1,583,000. Competing ballot measure, Proposition 99 paid Progressive Campaigns, Inc. $3,559,970 to qualify that measure for the ballot.
- California 2008 ballot propositions
- Laws governing the initiative process in California
- Campaign finance requirements for California ballot measures
- California Proposition 90, Limits on Government's Power of Eminent Domain (2006)
- California Proposition 99, Rules Governing Eminent Domain (June 2008)
- Official Voter Information Guide : Proposition 98
- PDF of the mailed June 3, 2008 voter guide for Proposition 98
- June 3, 2008 ballot proposition election returns
- Proposition 98 in the Smart Voter Guide
- Analysis of Proposition 98 from the Institute of Governmental Studies
- Guide to Proposition 98 from the California Voter Foundation
- Summary of donors to and against 98 from Cal-Access
- Donors for and against Proposition 98 from Follow The Money
- Analysis of the effects of Proposition 98 on housing
- California Farm Bureau endorsement of Proposition 98
- Analysis of impact of Proposition 98 on the environment from the California League of Conservation Voters
- Yes on Property Rights Official supporters of Proposition 98
- No on 98/Yes on 99 Protect Renters, Protect Homes Official opponents of Proposition 98
- Side-by-side comparison of Propositions 98 and 99 from the supporters of Proposition 99
- Side-by-side comparison of Propositions 98 and 99 from the supporters of Proposition 98
- List of California cities with rent control
- Yes on 98, YouTube.
- ↑ Competing eminent domain measures set for June ballot Capital Press, February 8, 2008
- ↑ Real Eminent Domain Reform Ballot Measure Qualifies for California's June Ballot, PRNewswire, Jan. 16, 2008
- ↑ Fiscal Impact Statement for Proposition 98
- ↑ San Diego Union-Tribune, "Judge approves description of eminent domain initiative on ballot" March 7, 2008
- ↑ Beyond Chron March 10, 2008
- ↑ California Voter Guide, "Arguments for and against Proposition 98"
- ↑ List of supporters of Proposition 98
- ↑ C.A.R. Supports Yes Vote on Proposition 98 to Protect Homeowners from Unjust Eminent Domain Takings, May 13, 2008
- ↑ Largest Statewide Hispanic Business Organization in the Nation Supports Eminent Domain Reform, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce endorses June Ballot Measure, PR Newswire, Oct. 25, 2007
- ↑ Victimizing the Vulnerable, Institute for Justice
- ↑ Californians for Property Rights, Initiative Language
- ↑ K Street Fight Will Resonate On State Ballot San Jose Mercury News, December 30, 2007
- ↑ Earth Times, OBSNews.com Reports Eminent Domain Reform Ballot Measures Debated in Sacramento, March 7, 2008
- ↑ Follow the Money, "Donors to Yes on 98"
- ↑ Supporters of Proposition 99
- ↑ The Bond Buyer, Betting against Proposition 98, May 23, 2008
- ↑ Follow the Money, "Donors to No on 98"
- ↑ [http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/property-california-eminent-1930079-cities-domain Orange County Register, "Editorial: Ballot measure seeks to rein in cities' land grabs", November 27, 2007
- ↑ Los Angeles Times, "No on 98, Yes on 99", May 12, 2008
- ↑ San Francisco Chronicle, "Defend our cities; vote no on Proposition 98", May 4, 2008
- ↑ 70 “No on 98” editorials
- ↑ Contra Costa Times, "PPIC poll shows big property rights concern but indecision on Props 98, 99", May 21, 2008
- ↑ Public Policy Institute of California, "Californians and their Government"
- ↑ California Progress Report, "California Prop 98 Heading for Rejection by Voters—Rival Prop 99 Has Narrow 8 Point Lead", May 22, 2008
- ↑ Proposition 98 campaign expenditure details
- ↑ Expenditures of the Eminent Domain Reform Now committee
- It's time to vote again, May 26, 2008
- Eminent domain measures would have little effect, analysis finds, May 26, 2008
- Seizures v. rent control, May 27, 2008
- Ventura Daily Press, Only one is the real deal, April 22, 2008
- LA & Cal Tenants Fight to Save Rent Control
- Californians to vote on eminent domain
- Eminent domain on June ballot Email Wire, March 5, 2008
- Sneak attack on property rights fall flat - eminent domain measure does not jeopardize water projects, National Tax-limitation committee
- Two Propositions battle over eminent domain, San Mateo Daily Journal, April 30, 2008
- Eminent domain...special California edition, CBS News, May 4, 2008
- Rent control key to one of two ballot initiatives, San Diego Union-Tribune, May 4, 2008
- Fighting eminent domain abuse in California, Redstate
- What to make of Props 98 and 99, Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2008.
- California measures address property rights concerns, Associated Press
- Property on the ballot at a glance
- Do we vote or strike?
- Farmerville opposes Prop 98
- Eminent domain: Ballot is a battlefield, May 18, 2008.
- Prevent eminent dysfunction
- Eminent Domain Targeted by Propositions 98 and 99