Prop. 90 focuses on private property
TRUCKEE – Proposition 90, a ballot measure set to protect private property owners from the actions of government, is stirring up some heat.
Slated for the November ballot, Proposition 90 is essentially a two-part measure dealing with the limitation of eminent domain – or the government’s power to seize land for fair market value – and the government’s ability to regulate property use.
Voters in favor of the measure are touting it as a way to restore property owners’ rights and to stop eminent domain abuse, but those opposed say that the devil is in the fine print.
Prop. 90 and land-use regulations
If passed, Proposition 90 would limit the government’s authority to adopt certain land use and workplace laws and regulations, except when necessary to preserve public health or safety.
“Just about anything (the town) does for the public benefit – zoning or any new rule – could make them liable to pay the property owner,” said Don McCormack, a member of the Truckee Tahoe Airport’s Airport Community Action Team. “If the airport changed the flight path and ran flights over your house, and you thought that it affected the value of your property, you would have a claim.”
The potential repercussions of Prop. 90 have some people at the Town of Truckee concerned about the number of lawsuits that could potentially arise, especially as they consider zoning enforcement, Commercial Row office space and property use regulations, said Dennis Crabb, Truckee town counsel.
At this point, the consequences of Prop. 90 are still speculation, but Crabb pointed to an example of a similar measure passed in Washington state.
“The result was two-fold. First the number of claims for economic loss as a result of regulatory activities has exploded,” Crabb said. “As a result, local government agencies have taken conservative stances towards regulatory activities.”
Prop. 90 makes a concession for existing programs, so the town is working to create programs such as the ordinance for downtown office space, as well as aspects of the General Plan Update to allow the town to regulate development, but whether or not that would be effective is unclear, Crabb said.
“Truckee will be OK by and large because of language we are putting into the General Plan and because we are open to development,” Crabb said.
Prop. 90 and eminent domain
Besides limiting land use regulations, Prop. 90 also stands to bar state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property to promote other private projects or uses.
However, the town already has regulations in place limiting eminent domain, said Crabb.
“The town will not acquire property until there is an external review of the deal to make sure it is fair for the property owner.” Crabb said. “The town has never used eminent domain, and only will where there are no other alternatives.”
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