Article Archives – 2009
San Joaquin Irrigation District Launches PR Campaign to Seize Private Property
December 28, 2009 – The Modesto Bee reports that the South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) has mounted a PR campaign to seize PG&E’s private property by eminent domain by winning the hearts and minds of local ratepayers. However, local ratepayers would be wise to see through this campaign and read the fine print. According to PG&E, the irrigation district is woefully understating the value of its assets and this could drive up the cost of seizing PG&E’s assets – meaning that all costs associated with using eminent domain will be passed on to SSJID ratepayers in the form of higher electricity rates.
City Takes Positive Steps in Redevelopment Restraint
December 19, 2009 – In 2005, after tumultuous dealings with redevelopment, the citizens of Chula Vista passed a ballot measure that would prohibit the City from taking property for private development. Four years later, Chula Vista might be on the right track to property owner-friendly redevelopment by holding public meetings to learn what the community would like to see. The city’s redevelopment agency has also seen a tightening of the belt in terms of its budget and administrative costs. It is a positive development to see a city working with the community and listening to their concerns, as well as making budget friendly changes – we hope other cities take notice! Read more about this story by clicking here.
Once Bitten, Twice Shy – Sacramento’s $40 million redevelopment project fails
December 11, 2009 – Downtown Sacramento’s K Street has been a hotbed of eminent domain activity for years and failed redevelopment projects that fail time after time. In 2008, the City exercised eminent domain over K Street property owner Moe Mohanna by forcing the sale of his property for over $18 million. When all is said and done, the city will have poured $40 million to the redevelopment project (taxpayer dollars) with nothing to show for it! Now the city is scrapping its latest plan and trying again. When will they learn? When will taxpayers revolt?
Silicon Valley City Aims to Close Proposition 99 Loopholes
December 10, 2009 – The Mercury News reports that the City of Sierra Madre is attempting to do what Proposition 99 failed to do – protect property owners from eminent domain takings for private use. A City Counsel-sponsored measure which aims to do just that will be on the ballot in April. Councilman John Buchanan supports the measure saying, “Taking one person’s private property to hand it to another is morally questionable, to say the least.” We could not agree more and urge the citizens of Sierra Madre to support this measure.
City of Winsor Extends Police Powers of Redevelopment Agency
December 10, 2009 – The Town of Winsor has recently taken steps to extend the life of the city’s Redevelopment Agency. Unfortunately, the town is hiding behind this power grab by using ‘blight’ as an excuse. Although the city claims that it will not take residential properties, it does have the power to take “commercial properties” – a fancy way of saying businesses! This is just proof again that Proposition 99 did not go far enough in protecting property owners. Read the Santa Rosa Press Democrat story by clicking here.
Senator Tom Harman’s Take on Property Rights
December 10, 2009 – Senator Tom Harman pens a column for the Huntington Independent stressing the importance of private property rights from a historical perspective. Senator Harman also calls for the Kelo v. New London decision to be reversed and revisits the story of the City of New London and where their ‘redevelopment’ project stands today.
New Private Property Rights Case will be heard by U.S. Supreme Court
December 3, 2009 – The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear one of the biggest property rights cases since Kelo v. New London. Owners of beautiful beachfront property on the Florida Panhandle have had their private access beaches usurped by the Florida Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA). How you ask? By using erosion corrections as a guise, the FEPA has added sand to the beaches, but instead of extending the property lines — they declared it a public beach! This action has made these valuable beachfront properties, beachfront no longer. The property owners are fighting against FEPA, as their property values have hit had by the loss of the private beach. The Wall Street Journal said an opinion piece featuring the case, “The Florida case is all the weirder because the beaches in question aren’t threatened by erosion and some have grown naturally in recent years, adding to the suspicion that “beach renourishment” is a state pretext to gain waterfront rights in a desirable area.” Government’s far reaching hand has once again encroached on property rights and we can only hope the Supreme Court sets them straight.
- Wall Street Journal Opinion piece
- Wall Street Journal Article
Champion of Property Rights Poised to take 72nd Assembly District Seat
November 19, 2009 – In a special election held this week, Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby was the top vote earner in the 72nd Assembly District. Norby has been a champion of property rights in California, having formed Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform (MORR) and was a staunch advocate for Proposition 98, which would have brought Californians real eminent domain reform. Supervisor Norby told the Whittier Daily, “I think fixing redevelopment is part of fixing the state’s fiscal mess. We’ve got a Byzantine mess of how we fund public services. (Redevelopment) hijacks money that would normally go for public services.” Norby will now face a run off against Democrat John MacMurray and is expected to win the heavily Republican seat. The Alliance looks forward to having a friend of private property rights and redevelopment reform in the legislature. Congratulations, Supervisor Norby!
New London Redevelopment Plan Scratched!
November 11, 2009 – Private property advocates across the country hope that a lesson will be learned as Pfizer, Inc. reports it will be closing its research and development headquarters in New London, Connecticut, the site made famous by the U.S. Supreme Courts Kelo vs. City of New London decision.Today, the homes of Suzette Kelo and her neighbors, which were seized for the private gain of this powerful corporation, are gone and the property sits vacant. “This is truly an example of the failure of our nation’s eminent domain laws,” said Marko Mlikotin, president of the Alliance.
Proposition 99 Loopholes Exploited by City of Vista
November 10, 2009 – In the City of Vista, the Redevelopment Agency has taken interest in purchasing the propety of a local motel owner in order to place a car dealership there. There is one problem, however. The owner has stated that he is unequivocally not interested in selling. So far, the City Council has promised not to take homes as part of its redevelopment efforts, but now they say that businesses do not apply to their policy. This is a perfect example of how Proposition 99′s purported protections are a sham, as they do not protect the business and livlihoods of small business owners. We could not agree more with the North County Times in its editorial today when it states that, “It is flat-out wrong to even hint at using (let alone to use) eminent domain to grab someone’s property, only to give or sell it to another private interest.”
A Potentially Perilous Plan for a New San Diego Chargers Stadium
November 10, 2009 – The City of San Diego and their hometown Chargers are in talks to build a $1 billion football stadium in downtown. This project would require the heavy hand of redevelopment and perhaps eminent domain. Although we try to remain optimistic with such endeavors, San Diego has made the task a little more difficult with its notably bad choices when it comes to private property rights. A little over five years ago the Gran Havana, a local small business located downtown, was seized by the city, bulldozed and then paved over for a a hotel never built. Today it is a parking lot! Regrettably, the city has not ruled out the use of eminent domain for the stadium and it doesn’t look good for the Wonder Bread building, which is located in the 14 acres they intend to use for the stadium. This makes it a prime target for eminent domain abuse, unless the owners can reach an agreement with the city. Although nothing has been formalized, we strongly urge San Diego to consider property owners in its quest to bring the Chargers downtown. Read the San Diego Union Tribune article to learn more about the city’s stadium plans.
Family’s Dream Property Seized by City of Lake Forest
November, 5, 2009 – As we noted here in September, the Hernandez family had plans to build a business venture on a plot of land now desired by the City of Lake Forest who has plans to enter into a land swap deal with Orange County. The primary reason why the Hernandez Family has refused to sell their property so far is the city is offering an unacceptable purchasing price. So like many public agencies seeking property on the cheap, the city announced this week that they will play hardball by invoking eminent domain. The greatest investment of their lives’ is now becoming a nightmare. Read the Orange County Register article by clicking here.
Conference on Redevelopment Abuse
October 27, 2009 – On Saturday, November 7th, Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform (MORR) will be holding its 15th Annual Conference on Redevelopment Abuse. For more information on the event, location and featured speakers, click here.
Boondoggles – Stockton among Redevelopment Projects that Fall Short of Promises
October 25, 2009 –Redevelopment agencies run by local government promise great economic returns to taxpayers, when in reality the projects often come at the expense of property owners. Dan Walters, in his recent Bee column, cites many such examples in California. While it is noteworthy for Walters to underscore how frequently redevelopment projects fleece taxpayers, they are not the only victims. All too often property owners lose their homes and livelihood to these failed redevelopment projects. This was certainly the case in Stockton.
Champion of Private Property Rights Running for State Assembly
October 26, 2009 – Chris Norby, Orange County Supervisor and leader of Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform, is running for the California State Assembly. Steven Greenhut, an editorial writer for the Orange County Register and author of Abuse of Power, writes a column defending Norby’s character and record on private property rights. Greenhut is absolutely right to do so for when State legislators (Republicans too) gave lip service to private property rights, Norby was on the front line taking on special interests groups and putting the interests of property owners first.
Action Alert: Contact Calfornia Gubernatorial Candidates
October 23, 2009 – While the California election for Governor seems like a way off, it is not too soon for the candidates to share with voters their position on private property rights and how they intend to limit government’s ability to seize homes, businesses, family farms and churches. As far as we are aware, only former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has revealed her position to a political blogger. However, to date not one candidate, whether Republican or Democrat, has posted a detailed policy position on private property rights to their campaign website. Contact the candidates and let them know that voters have a right to know where they stand.
Ripon City Council Pro Eminent Domain
October 22, 2009 – As reported in the Manteca Bulletin, the Ripon City Council passed a resolution endorsing the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s plan to forcibly seize PG&E’s power lines by eminent domain. The plan not only violates private property rights, but it is fraught with danger and unintended consequences. For one, the purported savings to current ratepayers is questionable and by no means guaranteed. The city council appears to agree since they modified the resolution saying it “may” provide local ratepayer savings, instead of “shall.” Wow… so they endorse taking of private property even though they concede that the benefits to their constituents is by no means “guaranteed!”
Effort to Seize Property for Basketball Franchise No Slam Dunk
October 14, 2009 – The Wall Street Journal reports of New York state property owners who are suing to stop a redevelopment agency from building a new arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. Rightfully so, they take issue with a government agency seizing private property by eminent domain to benefit a private developer. As another example of how government’s frequent claim that “public benefits” outweigh private property rights often run afoul and hits taxpayers in the pocketbook, the city’s independent budget office reports that the taxpayer financed project will “cost the city nearly $170 million, nearly $40 million more in spending than it would generate in tax revenue.” What is the public benefit of being fleeced?
Los Angeles Seizes Land From Citizens, Gives to Billionaire Developer!
October 8, 2009 – An eye opening article in LA Weekly reveals that despite growing budget deficits, the Los Angeles Community Development Association (LA – CRA) used eminent domain and taxpayer dollars to finance a downtown redevelopment project. In essence, while projects for the poor are cut, the rich and famous are getting government handouts in LA! To make matters worse, private property seized by eminent domain was used to build a Ritz Carlton hotel! ” The LA Weekly article goes on to say that “the eminent domain takings in the area of what is now Staples and L.A. Live in the 1990s left many private landowners deeply embittered over being forced off their property at “market/fair value.” In one case, a developer got a taxpayer subsidy only to flip the property and sell it to another developer, and did not return the property to its original owner. Alliance President Marko Mlikotin is quoted in the article saying, “The CRA was using public dollars to seize private properties. Shouldn’t that property revert to the original owner?” You can read the rest of the LA Weekly article by clicking here.
Gubernatorial Candidate Meg Whitman Takes Firm Stand for Property Rights
October 7, 2009 – In a recent interview with FlashReport, a major political blog, gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and former CEO of eBay, lays out her position on private property rights and government’s use of eminent domain. Whitman is quoted as saying, “My view is that it should be very hard for the government, or a city, or a county to take people’s property rights. Property rights is a core part of, I think, why people live in America. Think about the history of owning property in the United States. It’s the American dream.” Since California has among the weakest private property rights laws in the Nation, we can only hope that this issue is important to all the gubernatorial candidates.
U.S. Supreme Court Battle –
Home Seized for a Redevelopment Project Never Built
October 4, 2009 – In 2005 Susette Kelo’s pink home was taken by eminent domain for private redevelopment project, a fight she took all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In its famous Kelo vs. New London decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Ms. Kelo by granting local government greater authority and ease by which they can seize homes, small business and family farms from unwilling sellers. Ironically, some four years later The Associated Press is reporting that the site where her home once stood is still empty! As she puts it, “”They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing. I don’t think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision.”
Family’s Dream Crushed by Eminent Domain
September 18, 2009 – The Hernandez family has dreamed of building their business on property they picked years ago, but now the City of Lake Forest is trying to take it in a land swap deal with the Orange County. Although the city has expressed interest in purchasing the land, the family refuses to sell. The fate of the Hernandez family’s dream remains to be seen and any glimmer of hope seems to be dwindling by the day. To read The Orange County Register’s in-depth look at this story, click here.
City of Manteca Votes to Support Taking of PG&E Assets
September 18, 2009 – Yesterday, at great risk to their political future, the Manteca City Council voted to support the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s (SSJID) plan to forcibly seize PG&E assets by eminent domain. Time and time again, public opinion surveys reveal considerable public opposition to government seizing private property and businesses by eminent domain. Perhaps if SSJID is successful in taking PG&E property, the City of Manteca will feel obligated to hire the hundreds of displaced PG&E employees who have lost their jobs! Fair enough, right? Read the Lathrop Manteca Sun Post article by clicking here.
California Bullet Train Could Railroad Property Owners
September 30, 2009 – Yesterday, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) revealed its long awaited plans for the Bay Area train route. These plans spell big trouble for property owners that could be affected by proposed train paths. The San Mateo County Times reports that, “The expansion may result in taking of homes and businesses through eminent domain.” So far, Menlo Park and Atherton have sued the agency, fearing the power the CHSRA could have over their cities and their futures. The plan revealed yesterday will most likely be a starting point for this controversial project and all of its far reaching implications are yet to be seen, but the CHSRA has few options when it comes to obtaining the land it needs. It is already clear that eminent domain will most likely play center stage to the transformation of the bay area as these trains move in and it is important that a spotlight be kept on the CHSRA as they grow closer to finalizing these plans.
After Losing Bid, City of Sausalito Looks to Eminent Domain to Steal Property!
September 10, 2009 – The City of Sausalito is considering the use of eminent domain to acquire water front property after they lost out to a developer who offered a higher price for the land. In an editorial today, the Marin Independent Journal warns the city against using the highly controversial land acquisition technique saying, “Even after being outbid by a private investor, the city is still pursuing the property, including talking about acquiring it through the risky legal maneuver of eminent domain. Eminent domain is a powerful device that that also carries a sizable financial risk for taxpayers.” This threat puts Morgan at a major disadvantage with the city, should he need to come before the council or planning commission to build on the land. The paper is clear when it comes to property rights saying, “The city must be careful not to sacrifice fairness and respect for private property rights in its negotiations with Morgan. Council members should not let their real estate negotiations cloud a fair and open planning process.
Redevelopment Scheme Alive and Well
September 8, 2009 – As reported by Bee columnist Dan Walters, “(City of) Industry has hired a squad of well-connected lobbyists to pass the stadium measure and also promote its scheme to allow cities to extend soon-to-expire redevelopment projects in return for allowing the state to shift some redevelopment funds to the deficit-ridden state budget.” The scheme involves allowing the state to divert redevelopment funds to help balance the state budget and in return, the legislation will make it easier for local redevelopment agencies to seize homes and small businesses by eminent domain. It is no wonder California has some of the weakest private property rights laws on the books – and getting weaker if developers of a proposed football stadium get their way.
Will South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s Eminent Domain Plan Fleece Taxpayers?
September 4, 2009 – This week, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s (SSJID) board of directors voted once again to seize PG&E’s power lines by eminent domain, promising local ratepayers better rates and service. But can they deliver on this promise? There is no telling if they can and what consequences lay ahead for local ratepayers. A few years ago, the Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) rejected SSJID’s application to seize PG&E assets and now, they intend to go before LAFCO with essentially the same application that was denied before! Moreover, should SSJID prevail in forcing PG&E to give up its assets by eminent domain, the law requires SSJID to pay “fair market value” for the property. SSJID claims the property is worth a mere $129 million, but at the hearing PG&E raised the point that the irrigation district never had access to its high value underground facilities and assets! Oops. The Stockton Record reported, ”PG&E’s Emily Barnett said the district’s estimate understated the cost of acquiring the utility giant’s assets by eminent domain, which she said would exceed $400 million. She told the district’s governing board to “learn from your past mistakes” and to forgo a campaign it already has spent millions of dollars waging.” If SSJID has under estimated the value of PG&E’s assets, then their promise of lower rates to local ratepayers will never be realized. Stay tuned… this battle will be brewing for months.
Bulldozing Developer Files for Bankruptcy!
September 4, 2009 – They say what goes around, comes around. That is certainly the case for a Baldwin Park developer who was scheming with city leaders to build a project that involved seizing over 500 homes and businesses by eminent domain. The Los Angeles Business Journal reports, “Real estate developer Bob Bisno, who last year failed in an attempt to build a large redevelopment project in Baldwin Park, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.” Fortunately for local residents, the developer pulled the plug on the project before the bulldozers began demolition and his bankruptcy means local residents are safe – for now!
Alliance Against AB 226 and AB 291
September 1, 2009 – This week, the Alliance has come out against AB 226 and AB 291. Both of these bills would expand the powers of the California Coastal Commission, which has already proved to have overreaching authority when it comes to private property rights.
“As we all know, times are tough in California, but allowing agencies to supplement their budgets by removing the essential oversight functions of the courts is wrong and would sell California property owners short,” said Marko Mlikotin, President of the Alliance. “California is already far behind other states in ensuring property rights protections, but AB 226 and 291 would go even farther in eroding those rights guaranteed in our Constitution.”
AB 226 will allow the Commission to become its own judicial branch of government, acting as both prosecutor and judge when imposing fines for indiscretions. No coastal property owner is safe, when the Coastal Commission is able to impose fines at will, with no due process for those Californians. AB 291 would allow Coastal Commission staff to deny permit applications without a hearing. This bill would allow staff to stop the processing of a permit application if they deem the property owner already has a violation on their land. There have been numerous times when commission staff has claimed a violation had taken place, when the Commissioners disagreed with their findings.
Tell your state representatives that enough is enough! Click here to find your legislators.
South San Joaquin County Irrigation District Desires PG&E’s Property
August 12, 2009 – As reported by the Manteca Bulletin, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District is making ready for its September 3rd board meeting at which they will vote to seize PG&E’s power lines and infrastructure by eminent domain. They clearly are not students of history. Several years ago, Sacramento Municipal Power District (SMUD) tried to seize PG&E’s assets in Yolo County too. Once all the facts were presented, consumers did not trust the promise of electrical savings and soundly rejected SMUD’s plan. Will history repeat itself in San Joaquin County? Stay tuned.
Public Television Program Shills for Redevelopment Agencies
August 2, 2009 – The LA Times reports how “The California Redevelopment Assn. and its partners have put up $320,000 to help Howser produce 14 episodes highlighting the achievements of redevelopment projects around the state, part of an attempt to convince Californians that they should care about this little-understood arm of government that receives and spends more than $5 billion a year in property taxes.” The article truly exposes how public television can be exploited to shape public opinion. Unfortunately, reporter Huell Howser did not profile the countless examples of redevelopment projects that involve demolishing people’s homes and small businesses (livelihoods), only for developers to walk away from the projects.
How Did Budget Proposal Benefit Blight Barons?
August 2, 2009 – Steven Greenhut, of the Orange County Register writes of his great relief that a special interest provision in the recently approved state budget was removed. The provision would have made it easier for redevelopment agencies to seize private property and give it to developers. Greenhut writes, “And something even more wonderful took place in Sacramento last week: The budget package “takes” $1.7 billion away from the state’s redevelopment agencies, and the Assembly refused to pass a piece of special interest legislation promoted by that giant redevelopment agency of a town, the city of Industry, that would have allowed cities to expand redevelopment zones for 40 years without conducting a blight finding. In an up economy, the state never would have grabbed the cash, and it would almost certainly have given the redevelopment agencies that extra latitude, which Industry wanted as an obvious means to pay for the infrastructure for a new NFL stadium proposed by the city’s most influential developer.”
When California law allows property to be seized by eminent domain, even if it is next to blighted property (maybe even blocks away), private property rights throughout California were spared a direct assault by special interest groups.
Vallejo’s Redevelopment Project a Flop?
July 26, 2009 – The Times-Herald reports that “Vallejo city leaders banked big dreams on a federal urban renewal project that promised a new era of prosperity.” Unfortunately, “A half-century later the city is still trying to realize that promise and unlock the waterfront’s and downtown’s potential.” You can just add Vallejo to a host of other California cities like San Francisco, Fresno, Baldwin Park, Garden Grove, San Diego and many others that used taxpayer dollars to seize private property by eminent domain to “revitalize” their communities. In many cases, after years of inertia and wasted tax dollars, such redevelopment projects are abandoned or never fully realized. Perhaps, a former Vallejo mayor said it best, “They tried but nothing ever happened.” Vallejo is a frightening example when one considers that this failed redevelopment plan displaced over 500 families and dozens of businesses.
Vallejo is just another reason elected officials are calling for redevelopment reform and presenting market based alternatives to eminent domain that strengthen communities without infringing on private property rights. For those who wish to learn about a movement to reform redevelopment practices, read Simplify, Don’t Subsidize by the Institute for Justice. It is a worthwhile read and a movement worthy of public support.
Transmission Line Plan Tanked
July 17, 2009 – The Transmission Agency of Northern California’s plan to build 600 miles of high voltage transmission lines over private property is dead, leading property owners throughout Northern California good reason to celebrate. The center of the controversy included the agency’s power of eminent domain and this invoked considerable protest from neighbor groups from Modesto to as far north as Redding. Is the plan dead and if so, for how long ask property owners. The local utility companies are still under pressure to meet state mandated renewal energy standards and no “Plan B” has emerged to achieving this mandate without the recently tanked transmission line plan. Stay tuned for developing news.
Threatened Long Beach Property Owners Fight Back!
July 12, 2009 – In the Southern California community of Long Beach, a home can be deemed blighted if its garage is untidy. Yes, you read this correctly! As many of you know, a blight designation is a perquisite for government to condemn and seize your property by eminent domain. So, you can only imagine, in a community that has had over 40% of the landmass deemed “blighted,” the Long Beach Press Telegram reports that homeowners are fighting back. In the article, the city defends its practices and claims that they have never seized a home by eminent domain. This may be true, but public agencies use the “threat” of eminent domain to achieve the same objective. Like a gun placed to a property owners head, government simple says take the offer for your home or else – and it works. Soon enough, even the last holdout sells when they see their neighbors move, homes boarded up, landscape deteriorate and crime grow. If the goal of the City of Long Beach is to improve the quality of life, why don’t they simply create an economic environment that stimulates job creation, fund neighborhood improvement programs and increase policing rather than seize people’s homes and livelihoods? And here is another crazy thought… how many Long Beach city council members had untidy garages when they extended the city’s eminent domain powers?
Supreme Court Nominee: Enemy of Property Rights
July 11, 2009 – According to an adjunct scholar at the CATO Institute, “it is not easy for a judge to undermine property rights further than the Supreme Court did in 2005 in Kelo v. City of New London. Conn.” That is unless you are Judge Sotomayor. As we all know, the Kelo case was the landmarked decision that sanctioned government’s ability to profit by seizing private property from unwilling sellers and give it to a private developer. In 2006, Judge Sotomayor ruled against property owners in a case that involved a politically connected developer who tried to extort over $800,000 or a 50 percent stake in their proposed CVS pharmacy and in return, the developer would not urge the City of Port Chester, N.Y. to seize their property by eminent domain! Sotomayor’s panel ruled that even if the property owner’s account of the case was true, the city still had the right to seize their property because the developer’s project served a so-called “public benefit.” As Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings begin this week, will U.S. Senators fully explore Judge Sotomayor’s position on private property rights or will they ignore the need to protect our Nation’s Fifth Amendment? Stay tuned.
Controversial Power Line Project Zapped?
July 7, 2009 – As reported in the Sacramento Bee, a controversial plan by the Transmission Agency of Northern California (TANC) to build over 600 miles of transmission lines by seizing private property by eminent domain lost one of its largest financial partners last week when the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) decided that the project “isn’t strong enough to justify spending additional money on scoping and planning.” Without this critical funding, a consortium of other municipal utility districts will have to pony up even more money for the project to pencil out. The massive power line project is needed for the consortium to meet a state mandate that requires their power portfolio to include a mix of renewal energy sources such as wind and solar. Critics say that alternatives to new power lines need to be explored. Regardless of what view people subscribe to, the property owners from Modesto to Redding who stand to lose their property to eminent domain celebrated the 4th of July and SMUD’s decision this past weekend.
A test for Prop. 99
June 23, 2009 – In June of 2008, Prop. 99, an eminent domain ballot measure financed by redevelopment agencies and other public agency organizations that profit by seizing private property, won voter approval. While roundly criticized by the Alliance and legal experts for its many loopholes, a case in Lynwood may put the new law to the test. Developers have re-introduced a massive 44 acre hotel, auto mall and retail project that has one problem-there is no open space in this Los Angeles area community, just homes and small businesses!
Local property owners fought a similar project by the same developer some years earlier when the proposed project included a NFL football stadium that would rest on top of hundreds of homes and small businesses, displacing about 1000 people. According to the Los Angeles WAVE newspaper, the developer has now moved the project to crush another neighborhood instead with presumably fewer “owner occupied” homes that are purported to be illegal seizures under Prop. 99. We guess if you fail the first time, try… try again.
A Documentary Critical of the California Coastal
Commission Under Attack
June 17, 2009 – A filmmaker who is producing Sins of Commission, a movie critical of the California Coastal Commission’s infringement on private property rights, was served a subpoena by the commission to acquire raw footage of the film before its final release! Claiming that this intimidation is an attack on his 1st Amendment Rights, the filmmaker is going public. This legal tactic comes as no surprise to property owners who have dealt with a commission who has denied them the ability to make even the most modest improvements to their homes — or permission to trim dry brush around their property during fire season. In fact, some believe that the Coastal Commission is using intimidation to suppress any criticism of the unelected commission that is accountable to no one! Perhaps, it will only be when the film is finally made public that California voters will understand the full scope and authority of this powerful, yet otherwise obscure State commission.
- Click here to watch the NBC LA’S Coverage of the developing story
- Visit the Sins of Commission website to learn more
June 15, 2009 – Columnists compare the Transbay Joint Powers Authority’s use of eminent domain to legendary outlaw Black Bart.
June 14, 2009 – The NY Times reports, “Judge Sonia Sotomayor will doubtless be questioned about Kelo at her confirmation hearings next month. But her answers will be complicated by her participation in a 2006 decision applying and extending Kelo.”
June 8, 2009 – The Associated Press writes, “The federal government backtracked Friday and decided not to seize the western Pennsylvania property needed to build a Flight 93 (9-11) memorial, saying instead it would renew negotiations with landowners.”
June 7, 2009 – Residents in upstate California who have had their property right’s threatened by the proposed high voltage power lines have started to fight back by forming the North State Land Owners Committee.
June 6, 2009 – A writer states in a San Francisco column that the President’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court; “Her record on property rights is no more promising. In 2006’s Didden v. Village of Port Chester, she ratified an eminent-domain abuse that makes the infamous Kelo case look mild.”
June 4, 2009 – Caltrans is coming under increasing criticism for becoming one of the state’s biggest slumlords by acquiring property by eminent domain for roads never built and allowing them to deteriorate into blighted properties. Selling these properties to balance the state budget deficit is just one of many solutions according to a local state legislator.
June 3, 2009 — The citizens of the California High Desert are fighting back against the use of eminent domain to seize property to build obtrusive power lines.
May 31, 2009 – The Orange County Register suggests reforming redevelopment to save the State budget $5 billion!
May 26, 2009 – A filmmaker takes on the California Coastal Commission in his recently released film, “Sins of Commission.” To learn about the film and view testimonials from property owners fighting for their rights, visit www.sinsofcommission.com.
May 11, 2009 – Northern California property owners fighting plan to build major power lines through their property and communities.
May 7, 2009 – To build a 9/11 memorial in Pennsylvania, the Associated Press reports that the federal government intends to seize land by eminent domain so that “the Flight 93 memorial can be built by the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, property owners say they’re disappointed and surprised by the plan.”
May 7, 2009 – The Sacramento Bee reports, “Property owners in five counties around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are protesting plans by the state to survey their land for a controversial new water canal – opposition that has landed them in court.”
May 5, 2009 – The Orange County Register reports that, “The Fullerton City Council is set to vote today on a noxious redevelopment plan that will undermine property rights, promote the use of eminent domain.”
May 4, 2009 – Stockton farmers threatened by eminent domain are taking the State to court. Case may be the first of many in the battle to fight the proposed Peripheral Canal.
May 1, 2009- Justice David Souter, who sided against against Susette Kelo and her pink house in one of the most controversial eminent domain cases, Kelo v. New London, is said to be retiring from the Supreme Court. Friends of property rights should breathe a sigh of relief!
April 23, 2009 – The City of Fullerton intends to declare an area with over 160 businesses ‘blighted,’ which would leave them susceptible to eminent domain abuse.
March 14, 2009 – Forest City Enterprises, a developer who has preyed on private property rights throughout California and contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat eminent domain ballot measures, pulls out of Fresno redevelopment project. Local property owners are spared eminent domain for now.
March 13, 2009 – Despite veto threats from Governor Barbour, the Mississippi State House overwhelmingly passed legislation that would severely limit the use of eminent domain. Unfortunately, eminent domain reform has not come to California.
March 11, 2009 – March 11, 2009 – Assemblyman Hector De La Torre, opponent of eminent reform in California, has announced his intentions to run for Insurance Commissioner.
March 10, 2009 – In an unusual case in San Mateo County, one government agency is attempting to use eminent domain to acquire water wells from another government agency.
March 5, 2009 – Since Lodi voters rejected a ballot measure that prompted fears of eminent domain, city leaders are now searching ways to improve their community without threatening private property rights.
March 4, 2009 – Voters soundly reject a measure that would broaden redevelopment plans in Lodi and prompted fears of eminent domain abuse.
March 3, 2009 – In order to acquire new water, Oceanside is threatening to use eminent domain. Seizure puts property owner’s plans to build a hotel at risk!
February 28, 2009 – Community group opposes city of Pittsburg’s use of eminent domain for a redevelopment project.
February 18, 2009 – The Stockton Record reports, “The court ruled Friday that Stockton’s acquisition of Marina Tower, on the north bank of the Stockton Deep Water Channel, was based on vague resolutions of necessity that failed to specify for what use the city sought the land. “This is a case of ‘condemn first, decide what to do with the property later,’ ” the court ruled.”
February 11, 2009 - City of San Jose may seek political retribution against business group for its efforts to unseat a pro-eminent domain councilmember.
February 7, 2009 – Ontario homeowners raise eminent domain concerns and protest proposed plan to bulldoze their homes for industrial properties.
January 26, 2009 - Read the Wall Street Journal’s book review of the “Little Pink House,” the story of Suzette Kelo’s battle to protect her New London Connecticut home from eminent domain – a battle that launched a national private property rights debate.
January 26, 2009 – The Los Angeles Times reports on Temple City and a case involving alleged campaign contributions, bribes and eminent domain.
January 22, 2009 – In a victory for property rights, the Institute for Justice wins an appeal case that reverses a decision to throw out an eminent domain case brought by a Youth Athletic Club that would hold the city accountable for its redevelopment plans.
January 17, 2009 – The Institute for Justice takes on a Southern California city that has unrightfully declared 700 properties blighted, including a youth athletic center.
January 9, 2009 – Sadly, Dudley Holman, a founding director of the Alliance, has passed away. He was a good friend and champion of private property rights, and other noble causes in his community. Dudley helped establish the Alliance when the Yolo County Board of Supervisors sought to seize a 17,000 acre ranch by eminent domain, using profits from a local casino to pay for it! Everyone who came to know Dudley as a friend, community leader and a champion of private property rights will miss him dearly.
January 6, 2009 – The Azusa City Council votes unanimously to seize a family business by eminent domain for a restaurant and grocery store. The business is not “blighted.” It just stands in the way of another business that promises more tax revenue!
January 6, 2009 – Never before has a budget proposal put California private property rights at such risk. California already has some of the weakest private property laws in the Nation. Under current law, a modest home or productive business can be deem blighted and subjected to eminent domain even if it is just next to so-called “blighted” property. As Dan Walters points out, in return for diverting redevelopment funds to the State of California, these very agencies can redesignate properties “blighted” without any new blight studies! This budget plan will only give public agencies financial incentives to gobble up private property from unwilling sellers to satisfy government’s insatiable need for new tax revenue!