The first, which property-rights advocates put together for 2006, was Proposition 90. It banned eminent-domain takings for private developers. California voters rejected the measure because it delved into other issues, and at an unpredictable cost.
Don't worry, groups representing local governments, such as the League of California Cities, told critics. They promised that if voters rejected Proposition 90, then they would work with the Legislature to craft a better measure that would correct the private-use abuse made infamous in Kelo. Didn't happen.
Instead, when the Legislature again failed to pass a reform bill, property-rights advocates and government groups trotted out rival measures, Propositions 98 and 99.
According to its ballot argument, Proposition 99 represents "real eminent domain reform -- no hidden agenda."
Bunk. Sure, it protects homeowners from having the government transfer their houses to private developers. But Proposition 99 does not protect business owners, the usual target of such takings.
Proposition 98 would prohibit state and local governments from taking private land from homeowners and businesses and transferring it to another private party. As Joel Fox of the Small Business Action Committee noted, Proposition 98 is the only measure that helps small businesses.
The bonus for the property owners' lobby: Added language would phase out local rent-control ordinances and might limit laws that require developers to build affordable housing.