The url goes to an article written by Matt Smith a regular columnist at the SF Weekly where he endorses Prop.98. But not for the reasons you would think. It makes for a great article supporting Prop. 98.
It should be noted the SF Weekly as an editorial policy does not endorse candidates or propositions. So this makes the Matt Smith article even more interesting.
Ron Getty - SF Libertarian
Hostis res Publica
Don't be too concerned with the originators of Proposition 98. instead, look at what they might deliver.
By Matt Smith
Published: May 28, 2008
If you're an environmentalist, an antipoverty activist, or a member of any other well-meaning civic group, your fellow travelers have told you to vote no on Proposition 98, the so-called anti-eminent-domain initiative.
And well they might, given the devious and greedy intent of its property-rights-zealot backers. But just as I don't buy tasty sausages because of my belief in the philosophies of meatpackers, voters on June 3 might ponder possible outcomes rather than ideological inputs when considering Proposition 98.
A cool-headed analysis of the measure's potential real-life San Francisco consequences — effects that are separate and different from its backers' misguided intent — point toward a potential cascade of unintended events that might help the environment and uplift the poor.
A measure conceived as a right-winger's wet dream, in other words, could instead advance the goals of liberals.
First, the devious stuff. Proposition 98 is ostensibly about preventing governments' use of eminent domain to unfairly seize property. But there's no crisis of eminent-domain abuse in California. The measure's truly meaningful effect lies in 20 vague words, out of a largely irrelevant 2,000-word total, that may undermine rent control, zoning, and other regulation of real estate.
Governments will pay compensation for actions "limiting the price a private owner may charge another person to purchase, occupy, or use his or her real property," the measure says.
If Proposition 98 passes, for every rule that limits rent, stifles lucrative development, or inhibits profitable change of use on a property, governments might have to pay landowners the difference between what they could have otherwise collected.
This would make such rules prohibitively expensive to enforce, effectively banishing zoning, environmental restraints on development, and rent control. (To soften this last blow, the measure specifies that rents can't be hiked until apartments are vacated. Incoming tenants would then see rents rise with market demand.)
Thanks to that 20-word sweet spot, the California Farm Bureau backs the measure, apparently so its members can cash out to developers at top dollar. Developers stand to benefit by paving wetlands and orchards. Landlords — the measure's main financial sponsors — support it so they can jack up rents.
Prop. 98's authors, meanwhile, hope to manifest their extremist philosophy of property rights at all costs. They'd have us believe that land once stolen from Native Americans by Spain, seized from Mexico by the United States, and subsequently made valuable through extralegal water wars should now be imbued with an inalienable right to a high resale price. Logically speaking, that's piffle.
If Proposition 98 were to pass, its backers would be wise to delay counting their profits.
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