Two voter initiatives have been filed with the Attorney General that would eliminate the use of eminent domain for any property that would not be owned and used by a public entity. Both measures would have the effect of all but eliminating the use of eminent domain for redevelopment projects – significantly undermining cities’ ability to build the affordable housing that California so badly needs.
Both measures were submitted by Sen. Tom McClintock, Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, and Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Assemblymember Doug LaMalfa is sponsoring one of the measures.The likely effect of these proposals - if they qualify for the ballot and are approved by the voters - could be to significantly limit efforts by cities and other entities to revitalize blighted areas, condemning many economically stressed neighborhoods to a continuing downward spiral.
The measures could make it much hard to build in-fill projects, and thus force new housing growth into surrounding open space and farmland. The League of California Cities will not consider adopting a formal position on these or other measures, until they have actually qualified for the ballot. (See "How an Initiative Gets to the Ballot".)
Legislative Oversight Hearings Focus on Redevelopment
Several state legislative committees have held joint hearings this fall to examine redevelopment practices, including redevelopment agencies’ use of eminent domain. The League is working closely with the California Redevelopment Association to examine proposals put forward by legislators and committee staff, to consider how these proposals might affect cities’ ability to build housing and restore blighted neighborhoods. Protecting critical redevelopment funding and authority is a key goal for the League in 2006, along with expanding housing supply and affordability, and increased funding for infrastructure.
Both eminent domain initiatives are available online at www.calredevelop.org for more information and review.
How an Initiative Gets to the Ballot
Filing initiatives with the Attorney General (AG) is the first required step leading to qualifying a measure for a statewide ballot. The AG’s office has to prepare a "title and summary" of the primary points and purpose of the initiative which are returned to the sponsors and sent to the Secretary of State.
This language is then used to print petitions that will be circulated for signatures by registered voters. Signatures collected will then be filed with appropriate county officials who determine the total number of valid signatures on the petitions and report that to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will then determine whether the total number of signatures is sufficient to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
The sponsors’ goal will likely be to collect about 1 million signatures to assure enough valid signatures are on the petitions to qualify either measure. The soonest either initiative measure could appear on a ballot would be November 2006, assuming sufficient signatures are submitted by about mid-May 2006