The Fight for Eminent Domain Reform in California Continues

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

As we make the transition from one year to another, one cannot but hope the future holds great promise for both personal and professional endeavors.  One also reflects on the past.  Families mark the doorjamb with a notch to track the growth of children.  Small business owners look over the books to measure the product of their blood, sweat, and tears.

It is hard to imagine losing all that to a natural disaster, but even more so to the government elected by voters to protect our rights.  But many California homeowners and small business owners find themselves facing that reality.

In 2007, the California Legislature responded with ACA 8 that did not protect small businesses or homes, leaving them at the whim of local government.  The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and a coalition, including Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association, lobbied successfully for the defeat of fake reform and it never made it off the Assembly floor.  

NFIB, along with the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and California Black Chambers of Commerce, support true eminent domain reform as proposed in the California Property Owners & Farmland Protection Act.  Statewide surveys show more than 67 percent of people support an eminent domain reform ballot initiative – Republicans, Democrats, Independents, business owners and homeowners, seniors and baby boomers all support this initiative.  

Key provisions in the initiative:

  • Private property may not be taken by eminent domain for private use under any circumstances (i.e. to build a shopping center, auto mall or industrial park).
  • Property may be taken by eminent domain only for public use (i.e. freeways, parks, schools, water projects).
  • Family farms and open space are protected from seizures by government for the purpose of selling the natural resources.
  • If a public agency takes property under false pretenses, or abandons its plans, the property must be offered back to the original owner at the original price and the property tax would be assessed at the value when it was originally taken.
  • If farmers or business owners are evicted by eminent domain, this initiative would entitle them to compensation for temporary business losses, relocation expenses, business reestablishment costs and other reasonable expenses.


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