Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Confused Californians reject property protection

Yesterday, California voters gave a thumbs-up to Proposition 99, a measure that, according to George Mason University law Professor Ilya Somin, "purports to protect property rights against eminent domain, but it actually provides almost no protection."

Why is that?

Well, says Timothy Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation:

The fact is that Prop. 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.

At the same time, Californians rejected Proposition 98, a measure that, says Somin, "really would forbid 'economic development' condemnations and other abuses."

It's hard to know what California voters had in mind, however, since Prop. 99 was falsely sold as a pro-property-rights measure. Prop. 98 was slammed mostly over a provision that would have phased out popular but oppressive government control of rents charged for privately owned rental properties -- controls that are already illegal in much of the state and on the wane elsewhere.

California voters may actually have intended to support property rights, while undermining them with their votes.

Whatever their intentions, though, state officials are likely to treat the vote as carte blanche to seize private property. As Somin points out in a post-mortem on the vote, "In effect, Prop 99 incorporates into the California Constitution an extremely broad definition of 'public use' that allows state and local officials to condemn almost any property they want."

Since Prop. 99 is a constitutional amendment, it essentially closes off whatever relief the state's courts might have offered property owners, instead limiting protections for private property to the meager offerings in the ballot measure.



Anonymous The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit said...

Par for the course. Oregon's Measure 53 looks to have passed, and it was sold as a tweaking of Measure 3, rather than as essentially a repeal.

Measure 3 was fairly unique in that it disallowed civil forfeiture without actually charging - and convicting - for a crime.

Oh well.

June 5, 2008 8:31 AM  
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^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 19, 2009 1:08 AM  

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