There are only two initiatives on the statewide June primary ballot. Both are constitutional amendments that restrict the power of eminent domain--the ability of governments to take private property for a public purpose in return for fair compensation. Proposition 98, sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, prohibits state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property for private uses and prohibits rent control as well. The latter provision would override local rent control ordinances, including controls on rents in mobile home parks in dozens of California cities, including Pleasanton. It might also eliminate the type of inclusionary affordable housing provisions that have been used in Pleasanton to require developers to build some affordable units along with high-priced homes. The land use/eminent domain restrictions attempt to accomplish what a similar initiative, Proposition 90, proposed, which the voters rejected in 2006.
We opposed Prop. 90 in 2006 because we believed it had the potential to effectively prevent the state and local governments from enacting laws to protect the environment and open space and would have undermined the authority of locally elected leaders to do what they think is best in their communities. Prop. 98 appears to have even broader application than Prop. 90 did. Prop. 98 is opposed by the Pleasanton City Council, the city's two major mobile home parks--Hacienda and Vineyard Villa--by the state's major environmental groups and a diverse coalition including the Consumer Federation of California, the League of Women Voters, the California Chamber of Commerce, California Teachers Association, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, tenants' groups, labor organizations and others. Proponents, in addition to the Jarvis group, include major mobile home and apartment owners' organizations.
Opponents argue that the measure's language could void many existing environmental protections, prohibit new ones and restrict actions needed for water projects, schools and infrastructure, and lead to lawsuits and project delays. Most opponents of this initiative are supporting a competing measure, Proposition 99. Prop. 99 says it addresses the core issue that Prop. 98 proponents say they are addressing, without all the collateral damage. It prohibits state and local governments from using eminent domain to acquire an owner-occupied residence for conveyance to a private person or business entity with exceptions for public works or improvement, public health and safety protection and crime prevention. This provision deals with the core fear triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo decision. It is drafted to nullify Prop. 98 if it receives more votes.
It's clear to us that Proposition 98 is a dangerous initiative that deserves to be rejected. The sleazy ads being run by its proponents, with the voices of children talking about their fears, complete the picture. You can vote against 98 a second time by voting for 99. We recommend no on Proposition 98 and yes on Proposition 99.