Eminent Domain or Imminent Disaster?

September 25, 2006 | By PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION

by Timothy Sandefur

This L.A. Times article purports to blow the whistle on Prop. 90, calling it a "stealth measure" to destroy the earth and whatnot. But it's silly nonsense.

Prop. 90 would require that the government compensate people not only when it seizes their land outright through eminent domain, but also when it passes laws that forbid them from using their land–essentially the same thing as eminent domain, except worse, since under current law, property owners are rarely paid the just compensation for land taken in this sneaky way.

But Mr. Meyerhoff claims that Prop. 90 would "eviscerate" environmental laws, and that "any regulation (other than health and safety)" would require government to compensate the property owner. Well, notice that "other than." That's right, Prop. 90 contains an exception which would allow government to prohibit pollution and other harms to public health and safety, without compensating property owners.

Mr. Meyerhoff tries to skip past that point quickly, but in fact Prop. 90 would not require compensation for zoning laws that forbid garbage dumps, or coastal permits, and so forth and so on. In fact, Prop. 90 grandfathers in existing laws, so that bans on offshore drilling, and Coastal Commission permit requirements would not be altered by Prop. 90.

It's unfortunate that the Times didn't require Mr. Meyerhoff to be factually accurate in his article.