Two ballot measures -- one sponsored by property owners, the other by local government groups and businesses -- seek to tighten the rules around eminent domain, and potentially end rent control in the state.
"Proposition 98, which will appear on the June 3 ballot, establishes limits on what local government officials can do. It bars them from seizing private land for private use, a policy sometimes deployed for economic development, and prohibits public officials from putting rent controls on private property, which some say is the most drastic provision of the proposition.
Proponents of the measure -- property rights activists, taxpayer groups and farmers -- call it a necessary intervention to prevent heavy-handed government.
Opponents -- many government leaders, tenants groups and handful of social and environmental interests -- say the measure hinders government's basic responsibility of advancing public interest. The biggest casualty, they say, would be low-income tenants protected by rent control, of which there are thousands in Santa Cruz County.
A competing measure, Proposition 99, was put on the ballot by groups representing local government. Responding to concerns that eminent domain can be excessive, Proposition 99 provides an alternative that would ban government from taking homes for private use, but it does not rule out commercial property or farmland.
If both measures pass, language in Proposition 99 gives it precedence.
County Supervisor Jan Beautz, who sponsored a county resolution against Proposition 98, says nobody wants their property taken, but that's not what the initiatives are really about.
They're a referendum on rent control, says Beautz, whose Live Oak district includes a number of mobile home parks -- the only areas in Santa Cruz County where rent-control laws exist."