Governor disagrees with Proposition 98

Times Staff Writer

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his opposition to Proposition 98 on Friday, saying the June 3 ballot measure threatened to undermine public works projects by restricting the government’s ability to exercise eminent domain.

In addition to phasing out rent control, Proposition 98 would restrict the ability of government agencies to force the sale of private property for projects deemed beneficial to the public. As a result, Schwarzenegger said, the measure could delay or drive up construction costs.

“Eminent domain is an issue worth addressing,” the governor said in a statement. “However, Proposition 98 would undermine California’s ability to improve our infrastructure, including our water delivery and storage.”


Schwarzenegger’s position is at odds with the California Republican Party, which supports the measure.

Supporters, including Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., said the governor was relying on a flawed legal analysis of Proposition 98. Coupal said the measure would protect private property owners from losing their land for private development but would not apply when land is taken for public works projects.

Coupal cited an analysis of the measure by the Institute for Justice, a Libertarian group from Arlington, Va., that concluded that “traditional uses of eminent domain for public use will not be affected. Roads and bridges will be built. Water projects such as drainage ditches, sewers, reservoirs, dams, drinking water and irrigation have long been accepted as public uses, and that will not change under Prop. 98.”

The state Transportation Commission has opposed the measure, saying it would ultimately delay projects, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has also voiced opposition.