Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that it is constitutionally okay for states and towns to grab property for pretty much any reason at all, citizens have been trying to prevent governments from doing so.
The track record is spotty. Officials and private interests who like to grab private property are aware of public outrage over the court’s decision. So they often support “protections” against eminent domain abuse with loopholes you could drive a truck through.
In a recent California election, two alleged property-protection measures were on the ballot. Proposition 98 was the real deal. Proposition 99 was the fake. Unfortunately, the phony measure was the one that passed. It was the measure that had by far the most advertising, being bankrolled (you guessed it) by land-grabbing special interests.
Friends of property rights can eventually try another ballot measure. Meanwhile, voters and elected officials in towns and counties can act independently to protect property owners, as the town council of Redding, California, has done. By a majority of three to two, the council voted to forbid officials from grabbing property just to flip it to another private owner.
Redding Councilman Ken Murray, who proposed the new law, says he wanted “to make it really hard for some future councilperson to willy-nilly take property from one person and give it to another just to jack up our revenue.”
Great move! Let’s hope it works.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.