August 26, 2006, by
Since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kelo, more than 30 state legislatures have either passed or considered laws limiting the government's use of eminent domain (the right to condemn private property for public use). Now, six Western states, including California in November (Proposition 90), have ballot initiatives to reform eminent domain.
The Pro-Prop 90 backers argue that drastic reform to the California state's constitution is necessary to stop the over use and abuse of eminent domain in the state. The anti-90 group argues that the proposition is too far reaching, too drastic and will have a significant and negative effect on land use, the environment, development, and affordability of even the most simple road widening project.
Oregon passed a similar measure (Measure 37) in 2004. At the time, Oregon had some of the toughest land-use regulations in the nation. However since, Measure 37, many longtime landowners have escaped regulations for protecting landscapes, the environment and neighborhoods. Oregon property owners have already field about 2,700 Measure 37 claims, aiming to develop about 143,00 acres. The claimants demand that the governments either waive the land-use restrictions or pay nearly $4 billion in compensation (for "taking" their land). In almost all of the claims settled to date, governments have ended up waiving the regulations.
To learn more about Proposition 90 please go to www.noprop90.com and www.90yes.com.
Claudia J. Gorham
Eminent Domain Department