Prop. 98 protest set for Saturday in Oakland

Opponents of Proposition 98 on this June’s ballot are gathering Bay Area seniors, renters and community activists to protest outside an apartment owners’ meeting this Saturday in Oakland.

The Rental Housing Association of Northern Alameda County — a nonprofit trade association representing more than 20,000 Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Albany, Emeryville, and Piedmont rental property owners — is holding a trade show and expo Saturday in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension, at 4700 Lincoln Ave.

Protesters plan to blitz it at 11 a.m. From their news release:

Inside, apartment owners will be scheming to trick voters into passing the deceptive Proposition 98 which abolishes rent control and jeopardizes important renter protections. Even though Prop. 98 was written by landlords, for the sole financial benefit of landlords, the proponents of this measure are trying to trick voters into believing their initiative is all about eminent domain reform. Opponents of Prop. 98 will urge voters to read the fine print, warning voters “don’t be deceived.”
Sherlock Holmes will be roaming the crowd “investigating” the deceit and deception in Prop. 98. The group will also unveil a giant magnifying glass – a symbol to voters to “read the fine print” of Prop. 98 so voters are not deceived by the landlords’ scheme.

Among those speaking at the protest will be Tenants Together executive director Dean Preston, co-chair of the Coalition to Protect California Renters; Hayward activist Jim Forsyth on behalf of the California Alliance for Retired Americans; folks from Just Cause Oakland and the Golden State Manufactured Home Owners League; elected officials; and others.

The protesters say landlords are using Proposition 98’s promise to reform eminent domain — government’s power to force owners to sell their private property either to government or to a third party for development as a public use — as a smokescreen to eliminate rent control; cut renter protections such as the fair return of deposits; stop future water projects; gut local land-use planning; and erode environmental protections. They claim Proposition 99 would accomplish real eminent-domain reform without the hidden agendas.


Eminent domain initiative qualifes for California ballot

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.