Californians Must Take the Initiative to Limit Eminent Domain

by Annette Hipona on March 16, 2006

The United States Supreme Court failed us in Kelo vs. City of New London, Connecticut. The Kelo decision confirmed a practice of abuse that has been happening all over California and the nation for decades. Homes, businesses and places of worship have been forcibly seized by the government for use by private owners for profit. Thanks to the Kelo decision, the whole country now knows this dirty secret.

In her dissenting opinion, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor summed up the problem: “Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party… the beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.” Susette Kelo’s testimony to the Supreme Court is eloquent in its simplicity: “Special interests – who benefit from this use of government power – are working to convince the public and legislatures that there isn’t a problem, but I am living proof that there is. This battle against eminent domain abuse may have started as a way to save my little pink cottage, but it has rightfully grown into something much larger – the fight to restore the American Dream and the sacredness and security of each one of our homes.”

The California Legislature also failed us by refusing to take any real action to protect Californians from eminent domain abuse. It is now clear that the Sacramento power brokers will bend to special interests that benefit from eminent domain property seizures. Despite what some legislators and lobbyists would like you to believe, the kind of abuse faced by Suzette Kelo in Connecticut can and does happen in California. So now it’s up to us. The time is right for a non-partisan initiative by the people and for the people that limits eminent domain powers to truly public uses.

I am a proponent of a California initiative we call “the People’s Initiative to Limit Eminent Domain.” We represent an alliance of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and all Californian’s who simply want “no eminent domain for private profit.” How are we different from the other California Initiatives on eminent domain? Nothing has been added to our Initiative by Sacramento lobbyists or power-brokers, we are nonpartisan, and all-volunteer. We have created a single-issue initiative that simply fixes the kind of abuse that has so outraged the nation in the Kelo decision. We state unequivocally “the power of eminent domain shall not be used for economic development.” Our Initiative limits eminent domain to legitimate public uses like a school or firehouse, public facilities, and for truly blighted situations that pose an “immediate threat to public health and safety.”

We are mobilizing a groundbreaking, statewide cyber-campaign to spread the word to through our website, where petitions and full instructions are available to download. You may also call 408-882-5008 to request petitions through the mail. To date, petitions are being circulated in over 40 counties in California. We have until the end of April to mobilize the entire state – each one must reach many. Political and financial influence created this abuse, and now the only way to fix the problem is to take it to the people. We have this opportunity to make history.

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