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Beware of Harmful Rent Control Rollback and Anti-Environment Measures on the California June Ballot

Support True Eminent Domain Reform –
The Homeowners Protection Act
By Larry Gross
Executive Director
Coalition for Economic Survival, Los Angeles County

Though we’ve still got to get through the February primary, progressives should be aware of two very important initiatives which just qualified for the June 2008 statewide election ballot. One is an outright attack on rent control, the environment and land-use planning and should be opposed by all progressives. The other will protect the homes of hardworking Californians from being taken by eminent domain and given to a developer. This measure deserves our strong support.

The dangerous measure, the California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act, aka the “Hidden Agendas Scheme,” is being financed by wealthy apartment and mobilehome park owners attempting to trick voters into thinking the measure is about eminent domain. In truth, the landlords’ scheme is nothing but a thinly-veiled attempt to eliminate rent control and renter protections.

Working families, seniors, veterans, widows and other low-income individuals already struggle to survive in California because of the high cost of living. Rent control is an important tool to keep affordable housing available for these hardworking citizens in more expensive, urban communities. The scheming landlords funding this measure want to drive these people out of their homes so they can make themselves even richer by renting out the units at exorbitant costs.

But they face a formidable foe in the form of a strong and deep coalition of senior groups, affordable housing advocates, tenant advocates, labor, environmentalists and faith-based groups who have been working for months to organize to defeat of the Hidden Agendas Scheme. This coalition has held numerous high-profile, highly publicized rallies decrying the greedy landlords, and are organizing regionally and statewide to ensure every voter is aware of the Hidden Agendas behind the Landlords’ Scheme. You can track their progress and get involved in this effort at www.nolandlordscheme.com.

Eliminating rent control is not the only harmful impact of the Hidden Agendas Scheme that progressives should worry about. The measure would also gut environmental protections, including our landmark greenhouse gas reduction laws. Read an analysis from one of California’s leading environmental law firms. That’s why virtually every leading environmental organization has come out swinging against the Hidden Agendas Scheme.

To combat this dangerous initiative and to provide Californians with real eminent domain reform, Eminent Domain Reform Now, a large coalition of seniors, homeowners, business, labor, environmentalists, local governments, public safety leaders, affordable housing advocates has qualified a separate initiative also for the June Ballot: the Homeowners Protection Act. This constitutional amendment protects homeowners by prohibiting government from using eminent domain to take a home and give it to a private developer. The Homeowners Protection Act is a direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Kelo v. the City of New London decision from 2005.

It’s a simple, straightforward ballot proposition and doesn’t include any hidden provisions or adverse consequences.
Between now and June 3, members of Eminent Domain Reform Now will be actively campaigning and educating voters about the benefits of the Homeowners Protection Act and the dangers associated with the Hidden Agendas Scheme. For those wishing to get involved and help with the campaign, please go to: www.eminentdomainreform.com to sign up for the coalition and join us.

Founded in 1973, the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES)is a grassroots multi-racial, multi-ethnic non-profit community-based organization. CES led the effort to win rent control in the cities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood, and is dedicated to organizing low and moderate income people to win economic and social justice. CES assists working and low-income people throughout the greater Los Angeles area and surrounding counties in working together to empower themselves to impact the decision making processes that effect their day-to-day lives. CES is committed to actively opposing any type of prejudice or discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, age, religion, income, disability or sexual orientation.

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