Schwarzenegger Opposes Eminent Domain Measure

Friday, April 25, 2008
John Hill
Sacramento Bee

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Friday that he will oppose an initiative on the June 3 ballot to restrict governments' ability to use eminent domain to seize property.

Schwarzenegger said he was opposing Proposition 98 in part because it might block the building of water projects crucial to farmers and residential users.

"Eminent domain is an issue worth addressing," Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement. "However Proposition 98 would undermine California's ability to improve our infrastructure, including our water delivery and storage."

Schwarzenegger tried unsuccessfully to broker a deal with lawmakers to put a $10 billion water bond on the ballot.

Proposition 98 bans the use of eminent domain to transfer property to a private party, and would phase out rent control. It bans taking property for its natural resources.

Opponents argue that the measure might also restrict governments' ability to pass environmental or land use laws - an assertion that backers strongly deny.

Opponents and some experts also say the provision barring taking land for the natural resources could prevent the building of water projects.

The California Farm Bureau Federation, one of the sponsors of the initiative, obtained a legal opinion saying that water storage projects could still be done under Proposition 98.

The provision on natural resources was meant to block any efforts by cities to condemn farmland for its water, the bureau says, not to hamper water storage projects.

But even some other farm organizations question that interpretation, fearing that Proposition 98 might curtail the building of pipelines, canals and reservoirs.

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