Tag Archives: hidden agendas

Real Eminent Domain Reform Qualifies for June Ballot

The Homeowner’s Protection Act has now qualified for the June 2008 ballot. It is a real reform of eminent domain that doesn’t have any hidden agendas. If passed by voters, the Homeowners Protection Act will prevent governments from using eminent domain to take an owner-occupied home to transfer to a private party. The measure is a direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo v. the City of New London decision from 2005.

The measure will appearon the June ballot, alongside the Hidden Agendas Measure, backed by the right-wing Howard Jarvis group. That measure would eliminate rent control, reduce affordable housing and have wide-raning effects for the state and local regulations of property.  Nan Brasmer, president of the California Alliance for Retired Americans said, “The Hidden Agendas Scheme is nothing more than a trick by wealthy landlords. We’re confident voters who are serious about eminent domain reform will support our measure, the Homeowners Protection Act, and see through the deceptive agenda of the Hidden Agendas Scheme campaign.”

To your right, you see video (or will soon) from the Save Rent Control Meeting in SF last Saturday.

Saving Rent Control in California

I’ve already told you a little bit about the Hidden agendas scheme to eliminate rent control. (tag here). On sfbg.com Ted Gullicksen, the president of the San Francisco Tenants’ Union, writes to kick off the campaign to save rent control:

If you think the mortgage foreclosure crisis is big, imagine what would happen to San Francisco if rent control were repealed.

With 180,000 rent-controlled apartments currently housing more than 350,000 San Franciscans, the end of rent control would be disastrous. Literally hundreds of thousands would be forced from their homes and forced to leave the city.

The pain and suffering people would face as they lost their homes would be immense, making the foreclosure problem seem insignificant by comparison. Maybe even worse, repealing rent control would destroy forever the soul of San Francisco, eliminating altogether the city’s character and diversity and leaving it nothing more than a wealthy enclave affordable only to the very rich.

Devastating indeed.  While I think Ted’s vision of SF without rent control is within reason; I personally can’t imagine it all.  As Ted says, the soul of San Francisco would be indescribably altered for the worse. Ghettoization, already quite visible in the City, would become more and more pronounced. Many older and long-term San Franciscans would be forced to flee the City. To where they would go, I have no answers.

It’s just not a City in which I would like to reside. So, for those of you in the City this Saturday, I recommend that you attend an event on Saturday: Save Rent Control Campaign Kicks Off With Citywide Tenant Conference on January 19, 1:00 PM at 474 Valencia St (at 16th), nee I implore, beg, plead, grovel, whatever. You can download the flyer (PDF) here. Spread it to all of your friends. It will be a rocking good time, I’m sure, and it’s a very important issue.

One More Bullet Point on the Hidden Agenda

Way back in 2006, I wrote about Proposition 90. Remember how I said that was going to be terrible for the environment? Well, it’s as if the Hidden Agendas Scheme folks are trying to one up that. According to a new legal analysis by Shute, Mihaly, and Weinberger (a good environmental and land use law firm), the Hidden Agendas Scheme has some real potential to mess with California’s environmental regulations. You can get the complete report at the CA League of Conservation Voters Education Fund website here (look in the lower left corner).

Basically, Shute Mihaly issued an opinion that the CPOFPA would negatively impact the implementation of AB 32, CEQA, smart growth regulations and other environmental regulations and possibly be more restrictive than last year’s dangerous Prop90. Here’s a key quote:

[T]he initiative prohibits regulations affecting the use of real property that are enacted ‘in order to transfer an economic benefit to one or more private persons at the expense of the property owner.’ Put simply, nearly all regulation provides an economic benefit to some private person. Accordingly, although the initiative is ambiguous in several significant areas, a court could interpret it to restrict a host of environmental and land use regulations that would be plainly legitimate under existing law. (SMW report (PDF) 12.10.07)

Rack up another bullet point on the Hidden Agenda. The fact is that the Hidden Agendas Scheme is a poorly drafted piece of legislation, and it’s impossible to really see how far this can be stretched by overzealous landlords and property owners when they are facing the possibility of common sense regulation. We know about rent control. We know about the myriad of additional headaches this could bring to the water storage debate. Now we know about the possible negative effects to the environment. That’s quite a hidden agenda they’ve got going on.

A tremendous environmental coalition has been assembled to oppose this Hidden Agendas Scheme with members like the Cal League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club CA, the NRDC and many others. To put this bluntly, there can be no possible benefit to the environment from this initiative, but there could be a huge downside for the California’s environment just as we are making progress on the legislative front.

And when you add this to the end of rent control that is embodied in this Hidden Agendas Scheme, it is imperative that we make sure this initiative is defeated. This initiative would “amend the California Constitution to add a regulatory takings provision that would allow a property owner to sue to obtain compensation for, and/or to invalidate, regulation that imposes costs on the owner, regardless of whether the regulated activity is a nuisance, a threat to public health or safety, or harmful to the environment.” (SMW report (PDF)) We can get REAL eminent domain reform with the Homeowner’s Protection Act, without all the baggage of these Hidden Agendas.  

The Real Eminent Domain Reform Initiative Turns in Signatures

(Added YouTube Video from Tenants Rights Folks. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Disclosure: I do some outreach work on behalf of the Real Eminent Domain Reform Initiative

Next year there will be two eminent domain reform initiatives.  The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association, has their Hidden Agendas Scheme to end rent control and to make land use planning difficult, if not impossible.  They submitted signatures a few days ago.  Well, today the Real Eminent Domain Reform Initiative, the Homeowners Protection Act, has submitted their signatures, over a million strong. So, we are looking at a face-off on the June ballot.  

While both of these initiatives claim to help property owners. One (the Real One) protects homeowners without ending important programs like rent control. One of them (The Fake One) redefines how government would work, or in actuality, not work.  The Hidden Agendas Scheme creates a litany of collateral damage in our government and follows along with the HJTA historical policy of slash and burn politics.  

Sure, HJTA will tell you all about how they want to save you from the tax man/ the law man/ the Man in general. But what HJTA really desires is an entirely new definition of property. A definition so broad as to practically halt much of our work to build build strong communities, and protect the environment. And more specifically, our decaying water infrastructure could be in the balance with this Hidden Agendas Scheme.   Could eminent domain use some tweaking? Sure. We should be very careful about using eminent domain for anyone's home.  And that's what the Real Eminent Domain Reform does:  

“It's been well over two years since the Supreme Court ruled in the Kelo case, and it's high time that California enacted strong protections for homeowners against eminent domain for private development,” said Ken Willis, president of the League of California Homeowners.  “This measure would provide California homeowners with new, constitutional protections against eminent domain. We're confident that we've collected the necessary signatures to place this measure on the June ballot, and are even more confident that voters will overwhelmingly support our measure when given the chance.”

The Homeowners Protection Act, the Real Eminent Domain Reform Initiative, doesn't have any hidden agendas. How novel and exciting!   For more information on Real Eminent Domain Reform, see EminentDomainReform.com. For more info on the landlords' Hidden Agenda Scheme: NoLandlordScheme.com

See Also:

Prop 90 Tag  

Using the Hidden Agendas for our Own Agenda  

Initiative News

I have a bunch of things that might have been more appropriate for Quick Hits, but rather than flooding the Quick Hits Section, I’ll do it here. So, here we go:

  • Ted Gullickson of the SF Tenants’ Union, along with similar groups from across the state, has started a new blog, Oppose the Landlord Scheme, to, um, oppose the landlord scheme. Go check it out. Ted and the SFTU are always hard at work to protect and further the rights and interests of tenants.
  • You will soon be seeing signature gatherers for, yet another, parental notification measure.  The last two went down, with Prop 85 (45.8% Yes) garnering an even lower share than Prop 73 (47.2%) did before it. Each version has its own slightly different kicker. This one would require doctors to notify the authorities of children who can’t, for whatever reason, tell their parents of the pregnancy. If they don’t, they can be prosecuted.  Can you imagine the consequences of that? Apparently the drafters of the initiative didn’t bother to think about the actual effects of this law from within their bubble (Great Prop 85 ad).
  • The referenda on the Indian Gaming Compacts have qualified. They will be Props 94 (Pechanga), 95 (Morongo), 96 (Sycuan), and 97 (Agua Caliente). There was a little bit of a debate about these during the E-Board in Anaheim. UNITE-HERE is gearing up to fight these.
  • Asm. Chuck DeVore of Orange County has withdrawn his initiative to relax the rules for building nuclear power plants. Shockingly enough, he couldn’t get the signatures. This initiative would have gone down in flames, so I imagine even power companies wouldn’t want to touch it with a ten-foot pole.
  • Using the Hidden Agendas for our own Agenda

    ( – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

    Well, today the good folks who want to “reform eminent domain” (notice the quotation marks there) have turned in their signatures to the Secretary of State.  This little shadily crafted hidden agenda masquerading as a eminent domain reform was attacked from all sides.  But one quote stood out to me, from Nan Brasmer, president of the California Alliance for Retired Americans:

    Wealthy apartment and mobile home park owners spent close to $2 million to qualify their deceptive rent control rollback proposition for the June 2008 ballot. The landlords are going to try to trick voters into believing their measure is about eminent domain. But they won’t be successful. We will wage an aggressive campaign to educate voters that this measure is nothing more than a greedy scheme by landlords to eliminate rent control so they can make millions of dollars off the backs of seniors, veterans, working moms and other Californians.

    Something came up on Calitics a few days ago about why language to abolish rent control was included in the Hidden Agendas measure. It seems pretty clear the rent control language is in there to help raise money from apartment owners.

    Now, rent control is a fairly popular concept. I’m not saying its universally popular, but, in many of these safe-Democratic seats held by many of the leaders in the Assembly and Senate Caucus, rent control is viewed as a positive. And leaders who take a strong pro-rent control position are generally well-received. You don’t really need to look much further than the very well-attended event last Wednesday to see that there’s quite a bit of support in San Francisco. A couple of weeks earlier a similar rally was held in Los Angeles and I’m sure that same rally could have been held in several other cities across the state with equally strong attendance.

    Unfortunately, the Legislature hasn’t been too kind to tenants in the last few years. Sure, it could be worse, but major pieces of pro-tenant legislation have been few and far between. That is the case for a variety of reasons, but there has been no real incentive for legislators to touch rent control for a while.

    But, if the Howard Jarvis/Howie Rich eminent domain “reform” package makes it to the ballot, rent control will be a major theme of the race. And once that disastrous package goes down in flames, housing activists can work on using that informal poll on the popularity of rent control as a means to pursue more tenant protections.

    So, as a little suggestion, I refer you to the Costa-Hawkins Act. More over the flip…

    This little piece of legislation, passed back in 1995, allowed what is now known as “vacancy decontrol”.  Basically, vacancy decontrol allows landlord to set the initial rate of rental whenever the unit is vacated. So, in many ways, it’s a slow weaning off of rent control.  Well, here’s a bit more about Costa-Hawkins from our good friends over at the California Apartment Association:

    This law cleared the way for owners in rent control communities to establish initial rental rates when there was a change in occupancy at a dwelling unit – a policy known as vacancy decontrol. While cities and counties continue to maintain the ability to implement local rent control laws, they must follow the parameters established in the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. At the heart of Costa-Hawkins are a number of basic rules: (1) housing constructed after 1995 must be exempt from local rent controls, (2) new housing that was already exempt from a local rent control law in place before February 1, 1995, must remain exempt, (3) single family homes and other units like condominiums that are separate from the title to any other dwelling units must be exempt from local rent controls, and (4) rental property owners must have the ability to establish their own rental rates when dwelling units change tenancy. (CAA)

    In other words, Costa-Hawkins is a huge gift to the landlords of the state. So, if I’m a freshman legislator from, say, San Francisco (future Asm. Ammiano, I’m looking at you), I think I would invest a fair amount of my time pushing Costa-Hawkins reform.  I mean, given the extremely high rental rates in San Francisco, we could, at the very least work on fixing vacancy decontrol.  And, the argument for Costa-Hawkins reform becomes a whole lot stronger after an initiative was defeated based primarily on its inclusion of rent control restrictions. I’m just saying…