The “Protect Our Homes” initiative qualified today for the November general election ballot.
The measure is part of a nationwide property rights movement that gained momentum after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kelo vs. City of New London that a city could legally seize private property for the purposes of economic development.
Unlike Connecticut, California law prohibits public agencies from using eminent domain unless the property has been declared blighted but critics say the process has been abused.
Government leaders and legislators, however, say eminent domain is the option of last resort and usually exercised in cases where private property owners are holding land hostage in the hopes of obtaining exorbitant prices at the taxpayers’ expense.
The initiative bars the taking of property for private use, as commonly occurs in redevelopment projects. It allows the use of eminent domain only in instances where the land is necessary for public projects, such as parks and roads. Click here to access the proponents’ web site.
It’s the 13th initiative to qualify for November, virtually guaranteeing a dense ballot and a massive infusion of campaign spending in the coming months. Contra Costa County election chief Steve Weir also says a big ballot adds cost and complexity to the election.
But an end is in sight. The deadline to make the November ballot is Thursday and while an additional 30 measures are in circulation, time is running short. For a full list on the Secretary of State web site, click here.
The deadline doesn’t apply to the Legislature, however, which is contemplating the addition of a redistricting reform measure. A constitutional amendment by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, would shift the drawing of political boundaries away from lawmakers and into the hands of an independent panel.