Proposition 99’s backers—that is almost entirely government groups who love eminent domain—are running an enormously dishonest commercial arguing that Prop. 99 is the “only” way to get “real” eminent domain reform, and smearing the alternative Proposition 98. I have rarely seen such brazen misinformation.
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—click here for an explanation.
Proposition 98, by contrast, would prohibit the government from taking away small businesses, apartment buildings, farms, churches, and homes, and giving the land to private developers. If you are outraged about Kelo v. New London and the abuse of eminent domain, the only genuine protection is Proposition 98. It was written, not by evil greedy landlords, but by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, for decades the strongest defender of California’s homeowners.
Prop. 99, on the other hand, was drafted by the League of California Cities, a group made up of city bureaucrats who are hoping to use their initiative to derail any attempt to protect property rights in California. Do not be fooled by their cynical scheme.
What about rent control? One charge routinely leveled at Prop. 98 is that it would hurt the poor by eliminating rent control. But here are the facts:
1) Rent control is already illegal in most California cities. Under laws passed a decade ago, California cities are not allowed to adopt new rent control laws in almost any case.
2) Prop. 98 would not eliminate rent control for any person who is currently living in rent controlled property. It would phase out rent control only when people leave their apartments. It does not allow landlords to evict people for paying low rents. It does not allow landlords to raise rents for people living there. Prop. 98 would not throw people out on the street at all. That is nothing but a lie being spread by Prop. 99’s backers to again fool people into voting against eminent domain protections.
3) Rent control is a bad idea that hurts the poor and actually drives up the cost of housing—and it violates property rights. If you make it illegal to charge what something is worth, businesses are going to provide less of it. Rent control laws create housing shortages by deterring people from putting places up for rent. They also lead to poor maintenance because landlords don’t find it worthwhile to maintain their property since they can’t get what the property is worth. That is why rent control is already illegal in most of California. Worst of all, rent control violates property rights by forbidding landowners from charging what they want for their land. You can’t say you believe in your property rights, but not in the property rights of “the rich” or “evil landlords.”
4) Even if you think rent control should be retained, Prop. 98 is the only proposition that protects property rights from eminent domain abuse—you would be better off voting for it and then later going back and repealing the rent control sections if you think they are bad.
Prop. 98 is being attacked by government bureaucrats and their supporters who want to fool Californians into voting against eminent domain protections. It’s absolutely sickening, and voters should not fall for it.
If you think Kelo v. New London went too far, and if you think eminent domain abuse must be eliminated you should vote yes on Proposition 98 and no on Prop. 99.