by Timothy Sandefur
Finally, SB 1809 (Machado), the fifth and final eminent domain bill signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger today, would add a truly meaningless bureaucratic disclosure requirement to current eminent domain law. It would require a redevelopment agency to file with the county recorder a document which would be "required to contain a prominent heading in boldface type noting that the property…is located within a redevelopment project." That way, people would be aware that their property is subject to condemnation in the future. I suppose that's helpful, but it hardly solves the problem with eminent domain abuse.
Again, the problem with eminent domain is that the government is able to take private property from some people and transfer it to other people for their own private gain. As Justice O'Connor put it, "[t]he specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory." Kelo v. New London, 125 S.Ct. 2655, 2676 (2005). Unfortunately, neither Sen. Machado's SB 1809 nor any of the other bills signed today does anything to change this. Only amending the California Constitution to forbid the government from taking land for private development can possibly protect California's property owners from eminent domain abuse.