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MAY 12, 2006 California Farm
Bureau Friday Review
A second attempt to win approval of eminent domain reform failed in the Assembly Housing and
Community Development Committee. ACA 22 (Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale) was the Assembly version
of SCA 20 (Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks) and would have specifically prohibited the taking of
private property for purposes of economic development, increasing tax revenue, or for another private
use. Two victims of redevelopment who lost their business, as well as the Pacific Legal Foundation,
Family Water Alliance and Farm Bureau testified in support. The proposed constitutional amendment was
opposed by the California Redevelopment Association, League of California Cities, East Bay Municipal
Utility District, East Bay Regional Park District and a number of individual cities that view eminent
domain as an essential tool for the redevelopment of urban areas. Although there was great sympathy for
the abusive use of the condemnation authority granted redevelopment agency, the Democrats on the
committee failed to support this needed reform. The party line roll call was as follows: Ayes: Garcia, and
La Suer; Noes: Mullin, Hancock, Salinas, and Torrico; Abstaining: Baca.
Even though the Democrat-controlled Legislature is unwilling to ban the use of eminent domain for
redevelopment, it appears ready to close several loopholes in the law and tighten the potential for conflicts
of interest between local officials and favored developers. SB 1210 (Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch) has
moved through the Senate’s Local Government and Judiciary Committees. This measure would change
how public officials use their eminent domain powers in four ways:
· It would prevent issuance of a pre-judgment "order of possession" without prior notice and an
opportunity to respond for the property owner or occupants.
· It would require an entity seeking to take property by eminent domain to offer to pay the property
owner's reasonable costs in ordering an independent appraisal of the property.
· It would also declare that a final offer of compensation for an eminent domain taking is
"unreasonable" for the purpose of seeking litigation expenses if the offer is less than the final
court-ordered compensation by 10% or more, and would define litigation expenses to include
reasonable attorney's fees and reasonable expert witness and appraiser fees.
· The bill would also change certain laws that relate to redevelopment plans. Specifically, the bill
would require a finding of continuing "substantial blight" prior to any exercise of eminent domain
pursuant to a redevelopment plan longer than 12 years after the adoption of the plan, and would
enact a new conflict-of-interest prohibition applicable to board members of public entities.
SB 1210 is opposed by many of the same organizations and cities that opposed SCA 20 and ACA 22
including the California Redevelopment Association. Farm Bureau has not taken a positions on this bill
due to our strong support for the constitutional amendments noted above, however, considering their
recent defeat, we may reconsider supporting this and the several other more modest reform measures. For
SB 1206 (Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego) is an omnibus reform measure that would make
numerous statutory changes including: narrowing the descriptions of conditions underlying blight;
requiring specified statistical showings to justify a finding of blight; and deleting antiquated
subdivision conditions as conditions that establish blight, absent a showing that land is also predominantly urbanized and economically blighted. The bill would also prohibit a redevelopment
agency from establishing new bonded indebtedness on a redevelopment plan after 10 years, or
merging project areas for two or more redevelopment plans, absent new legislative findings of
"significant blight." The bill would also prohibit an agency or legislative body from entering into
an agreement with a property owner or real party in interest to receive indemnification from suit in
return for adopting or amending a redevelopment plan. The bill would make several changes
designed to make it easier to challenge a redevelopment plan in court, and easier for the state to
oversee and participate in legal challenges.
SB 1650 (Kehoe) would require public entities to adopt a new resolution before using property
taken under threat of eminent domain for a new public use, or to adopt a resolution reauthorizing
the stated public use if the property is not used within 10 years. The bill would create a right of
first refusal for the former owner to buy the property if a new resolution fails, and would require
an entity to transfer the financial benefit of any other sale to any former owners of residential
property. The bill would also create a leaseback right for property taken by eminent domain if the
property will not be used for the stated public use within two years of acquisition. This bill is
currently pending action in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
SB 1809 (Mike Machado, D-Linden) would require additional disclosures to be made in the title
documents for property located within a redevelopment plan. This measure is considered for the
Special Consent Calendar on the Senate Floor.
SCA 24 (Torlakson) would amend the state Constitution to prohibit the use of eminent domain to
take owner-occupied residential property for private use. This proposed constitutional amendment
originally dealt with education funding and is still parked in the Senate Education Committee.
AB 773 (Gene Mullin, D-South San Francisco) would increase, from 30 days to 90 days, the
period following adoption of a redevelopment agency ordinance during which voters in cities and
counties with a population of less than 500,000 may gather signatures to challenge that ordinance
AB 782 (Mullin) would remove the exception to the rule for purposes of redevelopment that a
blight finding may be based on the presence of antiquated subdivisions consisting of lots that are
of "irregular form and shape" and "inadequate size for proper usefulness."
AB 1162 (Mullin) would place a two-year moratorium on the use of eminent domain by
redevelopment agencies to acquire owner-occupied homes or duplexes if the property would be
transferred to a private entity. The bill would also require the California Research Bureau of the
State Library and the California Law Review Commission to submit specified reports to the
Legislature on abuses of the condemnation authority by redevelopment agencies. This bill was rereferred
to the Senate Rules Committee after it was gutted and amended to its current form on the
Senate Floor in Sept. 2005.
ACA 15 (Mullin) would add to the California Constitution the requirement that a redevelopment
agency shall not acquire property through the exercise of the power of eminent domain unless the
redevelopment agency first makes a written finding that the property contains conditions of both
physical and economic blight.
AB 2479 by Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) was heard in the Appropriations Committee and placed on the
Suspense file for further consideration. AB 2479 would reauthorize California Department of Food and
Agriculture’s Weed Management Area (WMA) program and allocate $2.5 million from the general fund.
Every dollar provided by the state at the onset of the program in 1999 was matched 3-1 through federal
matching funds, grants, private donations, and volunteer work. The WMA program is composed of local,
state and federal agencies, private landowners, farmers, ranchers and conservationists. This cooperative
partnership has been successful in the effective treatment of over 128,421 acres and the eradication of
over 2,015 high priority weed infestations in California. Prior funding for this program ended in 2004.
The bill will be up for a vote in the committee on May 24th. CFBF is in support.
AB 2063 (Keith Richman, R-Northridge) passed out of the Assembly Education Committee and is now
on the Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense file for further consideration. This bill allows a
school district to receive average daily attendance (ADA) revenue limit funding for pupils participating in
agricultural youth leadership programs sanctioned by an extension program of the University of
California (UC), if the district requires the pupil to complete any missed class work assignments. The bill
particularly addresses students involved in the UC 4-H Youth Development Program, which is an
organization for youth, ages 5-19 that promotes hands-on learning and is based on parent and volunteer
participation. CFBF is in support.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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