All posts by mrgr8avill

Proposition 90 DOES impact public projects

(A good argument on why Prop 90 should not pass. – promoted by SFBrianCL)

As a commercial real estate appraiser, I have been involved in numerous public projects over the last 15 years, and while I agree that change is warranted for the redevelopment aspect, Prop 90 all but destroys the “good” elements of eminent domain.

First, from a professional standpoint, I stand to benefit from its passing.  There will be much work to be done if/when Prop 90 passes and all current projects have to be re-valued.  Many projects I have worked on have been given to the acquiring agency through an “Order of Posession” but the case not gone to trial.  Under Prop 90, these projects will be subject to the amendment even though the project may already be completed.

I honestly do not have much of an argument with the need for redevelopment reform, but it is in the provision of roads, utilities, and public services that Prop 90 will be most damaging, for two reasons:

1) Prop 90 does away with dedication requirements, and
2) Prop 90 requires payment at the highest use.
[Edited by SFBrianCL]: More in the extended…

Say you have a two lane road in a partially developed suburban area, with areas of commercial development beginning along it.  This will one day be a big four lane signalizd commercial thoroghfare, but the city simply has not yet gotten that big (a very common scenario in the state). 

A time later, commercial development has now intensified, and there are a few strip centers, neighborhood centers, etc.  The street is getting busy.  It is now about time for the city to widen it to is ultimate width, put in some signals, and turn it into the road that was designed to handle the traffic of a growing city.

This might happen when, say, 50% of the properties along the road have developed.  When they developed, the owners applied for the site plan and permits, and as part of the process, they were required to dedicate the portion of the road running over those properties. 

But the other 50% of propertis haven’t developed, and they have not then been required to dedicate the right of way for the road. 

Under current ED law, the City would acquire the road right of way to its ultimate width from the remaining 50% of property owners at very low value, based on the fact that they would have to dedicate the area anyway whenever they decided to develop their land.

Under Prop 90, the City would not be able to use the dedication requirement logic (defined by City of Fresno v. Cloud), and would have to pay the remaining 50% of property owners full commercial value for that road area — EVEN though if they simply waited for everyone to develop, they could get it for free.

Roads require a lot of area — maybe not from any particular parcel, but over the course of a mile, the square footage really adds up.  The difference between getting this road area for almost nothing and having to pay up to 100 times more for it (or much more) is substantial.  Suddenly, the acquisition budget for the widening of this road goes from $100,000 to $10,000,000 — plus construction costs.

Either that kills the budget for the widening project, they have to get the money some other way, or they wait for more property owners along the street to develop and dedicate before they go ahead with the project.

Most likely the project will either get killed or the money will have to come from private sector developers interested in the project.  Neither is a good alternative, as the first results in long delayed public improvement projects, and the latter in higher development costs, and higher prices neded to recoup those costs.

I used a road as an example, but the theory holds true for any public utility corridor.  This proposition stands to severely limit the ability of growing municipalities to meet the needs of their residents.

Again, professionally I stand to benefit from this proposition working for property owners, but both professionally and personally, I firmly believe that this is bad, bad and harmful legislation.  The use of ED for redevelopment should be reformed, and could be eliminated alltogether as far as I care, but the impact of this Proposition is so much more far-reaching that that it is not even funny. 

Those who say this Proposition does not impact the ability of municipalities to provide public improvements are either misinformed, or worse — doing the public a huge disservice through misrepresentation.  It ALLOWS ED for public improvements, but increases the COST of such projects beyond anything feasible.

Now before you get all worked up at me about how the government has no right to take your property for free, let me explain that I am talking about roads and corridors within the existing master plan — not the city going through an existing tract of homes for a new freeway.  As it stands, the city would have to pay a property owner full value for a new road, but Prop 90 makes them pay full value for simply transferring ownership of existing master planned right of way from the property owner to the public agency.

Remember, one side of the sword is fun to wave at the big bad government not paying people enough for their property, but the other side is that all the extra money they “should” be paying people under Prop 90 comes from the taxpayer.  That side cuts just as deep. 

Vote for this if you think it is the right amendment to our Constitution, but hold your peace three years from now when it takes you three times as long to get to the office because no one is making road improvements.