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Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006 | Tuesday morning the Union-Tribune editorial board came down squarely on the side of conventional wisdom, business as usual, and the status quo. Was it not only two weeks ago that the Kroll report told us that it was the status quo that brought us the pension under funding and wastewater overcharging schemes? The U-T would like us to vote no on Proposition 90 and allow the usual suspects to continue to wreak mayhem and have free rein to use eminent domain to take our property, if they feel our homes or businesses suit their needs better than ours.
Proposition 90, the Protect Our Homes Initiative, will amend the state constitution to prevent local government from taking private property just to pursue economic gain. The U-T laments the fact that this would change redevelopment as we now know it, suggesting that Horton Plaza and Petco Park would not be here, if it were not for eminent domain. Further investigation, however, reveals that redevelopment is possible without using eminent domain. Just look at Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle’s Platinum Triangle project. In the area surrounding Angel Stadium, Anaheim is creating a downtown where one previously did not exist. Instead of using eminent domain powers, Mayor Pringle is giving current business and property owners incentives, such as reduced taxes and relaxed zoning regulations, to encourage them to pursue projects that fit the mold of a new downtown. By all accounts, this approach has been a great success.
But even if the U-T is correct, and San Diego’s multiple redevelopment projects are hindered, because of Prop. 90’s passage, there are many in this city that would accept this as a good thing. The more insightful participants in city government are starting to question the conventional wisdom that redevelopment is good for the city’s bottom line. Some believe that redevelopment, through its tax increment financing and its consequential added pressure on the general fund for municipal services is helping to bleed this city dry. Could this be part of the reason the City Council resorted to Manager’s Proposals 1 and 2?
Contrary to the U-T’s opinion, San Diegans, especially business and home owners, would be best served by the passage of Prop. 90. This ballot initiative will give the average San Diegan the opportunity to turn the tables. Once Prop. 90 passes, if the usual suspects feel the initiative is too restrictive, we can all say, “Let ’em sue us.”