Sacramento, CA – Today, a broad-based coalition of California property owners announced that the California Secretary of State has certified the qualification of the “California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act” for the June 2008 ballot. In November of last year, a coalition of home and business owners, family farmers and taxpayer groups submitted over 1.1 million signatures.
“Government should not be able to profit by seizing private property from unwilling sellers for retail or commercial projects,” said former Sacramento Congressman and campaign finance chair Doug Ose. “Finally, Californians will have the opportunity to vote for real reforms that protect their homes, small businesses, family farms and places of worship from eminent domain abuse.”
While over 40 states have reformed their eminent domain laws since the 2005 U.S. Kelo v. New London decision, California is not among them. While reforms have not come in time to protect some, local property owners in the Southern California community of Baldwin Park and the Northern California community of Seaside cheer the news that voters will have the chance to consider real reforms on the June 2008 ballot.
According to local residents, the City of Baldwin Park is expediting eminent domain proceedings to demolish over 500 homes and small businesses in an area of approximately 125 football fields. A letter from the developer to the city states that their investors are concerned this ballot measure threatens their project and urges the city to seize the properties before Election Day. The thousands of dollars in campaign contributions used to influence the outcome of the last city election has also prompted standing room only protests at city hall.
“The City of Baldwin Park is using eminent domain to seize my home for a development project that benefits a politically connected developer,” said homeowner Ms. Cruz Baca Sembello. “They should not be able to take my home. Where are my rights?”
In the Northern California community of Seaside, property owner Tim Cunha is among hundreds of property owners fighting the city council and the developer, former baseball legend Reggie Jackson.
“I never thought that something like this could happen to me,” said Tim Cunha. “Government should not be able to profit by seizing private property from unwilling sellers. It shows what little regard government has for the personal and financial costs associated with throwing us out on the streets.”
The California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act, is sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation and the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. The measure prohibits private to private takings, while allowing traditional uses of eminent domain for roads, schools and water projects. It is endorsed by NFIB, the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, the Black Chamber of Commerce and a diverse coalition of taxpayer, faith and good government organizations. To qualify for the June ballot, 694,354 valid signatures were required. For more campaign information,