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Analysis of California's Proposition 90: The Protect Our Homes Act

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Publication Date: October 2006

Publisher(s): Reason Foundation

Author(s): Leonard C. Gilroy

Topic: Economics (Property and wealth)
Law and ethics (Real estate and property law)

Type: Brief

Coverage: California


The government's power to take private property through the use of eminent domain--initially intended to ensure that roads, infrastructure, and other legitimate public facilities were built--has gradually expanded to cover a wide variety of projects deemed to serve a public "benefit," no matter how broadly or vaguely defined. For example, eminent domain has been widely used to transfer property from one private owner to another for economic development purposes, giving government the power to hand-pick winners and losers and undermining our free market economic system and citizens' private property rights. Proposition 90 represents a momentous opportunity for Californians to take a strong stand against the abuse of private property rights by government. It would amend the state Constitution to establish reasonable and just property rights protections as a foundational framework for California law, effectively reiterating and clarifying the Founding Fathers' intent as established in the United States Constitution. Proposition 90 would also impose fiscal discipline on government, requiring it to adequately account for and weigh the costs and benefits of public action. Finally, it would help reinforce the notion that the fundamental purpose of government is to protect our rights, not selectively undermine them.