March 20, 2007

What Would California Proposed Initiative 07-006 Do? (Part 2 of 3)

By What Would California Proposed Initiative 07-006 Do? (Part 2 of 3)

Section (c) of the League of Cities' initiative would creates an exception to the meager protection provided by the initiative. It would allow government to take property and transfer it to private entities whenever doing so was "incidental to" a "public improvement" such as a library, a park, a recreational facility, a train station, &c. In other words, under this proposal, a city could condemn property to build, say, a museum or a public ampitheater, and then surround it with a shopping center built on land taken from private property owners through eminent domain.

Anyone familiar with Victoria Gardens in southern California will find it easy to imagine such a project. Victoria Gardens features a public theater and public library, surrounded by private stores and restaurants. While I don' know whether eminent domain was involved in that project, it would be easy under Proposed initiative 07-006 for cities to copy that formula and to use eminent domain in the process, even taking owner occupied residences.

What' more, the initiative prohibits the transfer of owner-occupied homes to private persons, but does not define "prvate persons." It defines "persons," but it does not explain the difference between a "private" person and a "public" person. It seems likely that a government-business partnership so common in the world today could qualify as a "public" person, and thereby again evade the restrictions of this initiative.

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