Friday, March 7, 2008 | Thank you to Remigia Bermudez for offering eminent domain reform as one of the five things the San Diego needs.

On Jan. 23 of this year the Grantville Action Group brought this issue before the City Council Rules committee as a proposed change to the City Charter. The committee rejected our proposal, which was modeled after Proposition 98, by a score of 3 to 1. For the record, Jim Madaffer, Scott Peters, and Ben Heuso voted no; Donna Frye voted yes: and Toni Young left early and did not vote. Those who voted no suggested the city should wait to see how the state initiatives shake out, before the city addresses eminent domain reform. The general public, however, should be careful before voting on the state’s initiatives, because whichever gains the most votes will override the other.

Proposition 98 is promoted by the California Farm Bureau and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. This proposition protects all private property, including homes and family businesses, from eminent domain for anything that is not a previously defined public use. Proposition 99 is promoted by the League of California Cities, and it will protect only owner occupied homes. In fact, to be protected, the owner must have occupied the home for at least a year. At the Rules Committee hearing a League of Cities representative referred to this as “surgical” eminent domain reform.

It is true that Proposition 98 is broader reaching. It will protect all homes; owner occupied or not. It will protect apartments, rental condominiums, rental houses — all affordable housing — and those who lease them. Beyond this, Prop. 98 protects the small, family-owned businesses that provide the jobs that allow many of us to afford to live in San Diego.

Comparing Proposition 99’s so-called surgical approach to Prop. 98 reminds me that one of the surgery professors in veterinary school cautioned us that nothing is as good as it once was after surgery. Don’t let the League of Cities surgically correct eminent domain. It needs a more holistic approach. And besides, do you want Madaffer and his pals holding the scalpel?

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