California Proposition 99, Rules Governing Eminent Domain (June 2008)

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California Proposition 99 was on the June 3, 2008 ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it won handily.

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.[1]

See also California Proposition 98 versus California Proposition 99 (2008)

Election results

See also: June 3, 2008 California election results
California Proposition 99
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 2,678,106 62.0%
No1,644,50938.0%

Constitutional changes

California Constitution
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXAXBXIXIIXIIIXIII AXIII BXIII CXIII DXIVXVXVIXVIIIXIXXIX AXIX BXIX CXXXXIXXIIXXXIVXXXV

The successful passage of Proposition 99 amended Section 19 of Article I of the California Constitution by adding additional sections (b), (c) & (d).

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.

Background

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have significantly restricted the extent to which the government could engage in regulatory takings and would also have repealed rent control, lost 52-48% in 2006.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

Title

The ballot title was:

Eminent Domain. Limits on Government Acquisition of Owner-Occupied Residence.
Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Summary

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.

Fiscal impact

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."[2]

Support

Supporters

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[3]

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.[3]

Donors

$15,600,929 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 98 by seven different campaign committees.[4]

Donors of $100,000 and over were:

Donor Amount
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
Nature Conservancy $500,000
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

Opposition

2008 propositions
Flag of California.png
February 5
Proposition 91Proposition 92
Proposition 93Proposition 94
Proposition 95Proposition 96
Proposition 97
June 3
Proposition 98Proposition 99
November 4
Proposition 1AProposition 2
Proposition 3Proposition 4
Proposition 5Proposition 6
Proposition 7Proposition 8
Proposition 9Proposition 10
Proposition 11Proposition 12
Local measures

Opponents

The official voter guide arguments opposing Proposition 99 were signed by:

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."[5]</blockquote>

Arguments against

Proponents of the competing Proposition 98 say that Proposition 99 would not significantly reform eminent domain abuses and would still allow for property to be taken and given to private owners.

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."[6]

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."[7]

Donors

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.[8]

Donors of $100,000 and over to the "Yes on 98" campaign were:

Donor Amount
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
Thomas Coates $200,000
Vedder Community Management $171,825
Thomas Tatum $125,000
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

Clipboard48.png
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.[9] Competing measure Proposition 98, for which signature gathering began significantly earlier, paid Arno Political Consultants $1,583,000 to qualify for the ballot.[10]

See also: California ballot initiative petition signature costs

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.

See also

External links

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Suggest a link

Additional reading

References