September 29, 2006

Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Mealy-Mouthed Property Rights Protection (Part 4 of 5)

By Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Mealy-Mouthed Property Rights Protection (Part 4 of 5)

by Timothy Sandefur

SB 1650 (by Sen. Kehoe) would limit the government's power to change the use to which condemned property is taken. Not long ago, there was a notorious case in which Los Angeles seized land for an animal shelter, but then changed its mind and re-sold the land to a private owner. This bill seeks to rein in such abuses by declaring that property may "only be used for hte public use stated in the resolution unless the governing body…adopts a resolution authorizing a different use…by a vote of at least two-thirds of all members of the governing body." This seems like a reasonable change in the present law. Also, SB 1650 would require the government to use the taken property within 10 years or to sell it, unless the government decides by a 2/3 vote to retain the land. If it does resell the land, the government must offer the original owner a right of first refusal.

Thus SB 1650, unlike the other bills signed today, has some actual teeth in it. However, the situations in which it applies are rather limited. People are mostly upset about the possibility that government can take their property and transfer it to a private developer for private profit, and SB 1650 does nothing to change that situation.

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