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May 21, 2008 > Hayward City Council joins long list of opponents of Proposition 98

Hayward City Council joins long list of opponents of Proposition 98

By Jennifer Falcon

The Hayward City Council unanimously voted to announce their opposition to the Eminent Domain Proposition 98. The Proposition, which was purposed by The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation, bans state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property for private uses, limiting eminent domain. The City Council joined the likes of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, The California Chamber of Congress, The League of Women Voters in California and CA Police Chiefs/ Fire Chiefs Association to name a few on the long list of Proposition 98 opponents.

The proposal states that the land owner should have the right to buy back their land if it is not being used as described when the government obtained it, and should be able to buy this land back at the condemned pricing it was bought for. While this may be fair to many home owners, there are also down sides to the Proposition according to the city and other opponents of the Proposition.

If Proposition 98 passes it will give the right to any land owner to charge what they like for a lease. Proposition 98 will phase out rent control, and eradicate affordable housing in the process, programs that are important to many renters in the Bay Area who are struggling already between the decision to buy groceries or put gas in their car.

"The biggest reason we have decided to oppose 98 is because it is not just limited to eminent domain," Council Member Bill Quirk stated, " In particular it makes it very difficult to maintain rent control. If Prop 98 passes the land owners of mobile homes could charge as much as they wanted or make mobile home owners buy the land they live on."

There are nine Mobile Home Parks in Hayward, making affordable rent in Hayward important to the City Council. The council recently voted yes on the Mobile Homes Park Conversions Ordinance in early April, trying to protect many seniors who rent the land their home is on, many of whom live on a fixed income, retirement or social security and are unable to buy the land that their mobile home sits on because of the increase in rent they would have to pay. The condoization of the mobile homes would double their monthly rent and is not a reasonable option for many of the Mobile Home Owners.

The Ordinance which requires for over 50% of the mobile home owners to agree in a vote for any conversion to the Mobile Home Park also requires land owners to supply all mobile home owners with any and all information when a conversion is being considered. Hayward is one of many cities that have adopted such ordinances in an attempt to ensure Mobile Home owners are as protected as the land owners. East Palo Alto went through the same process last year with our now City Council Attorney Michael Lawson.

"If 98 passes the Mobile Home Park Conversion Ordinance is all over and the land owner can do what he pleases with the land," Council member Quirk stressed. Its estimated that if Prop 98 passes it would virtually destroy home values of Mobile Homes, which are owned but the land they are placed on is rented. The Proposition could also lead to many lawsuits, wasting tax payer's money in drawn out legal battles over land right uses, also affecting water rights as well as phasing out Environmental laws.

"We could be forced to let someone put up a huge building right next to single family homes. If we didn't agree with the warehouse builder they could sue us, if the building is put up next to single family homes they could in turn sue as well."

Running against Proposition 98 is a similar initiative Prop 99, which Council Member Quirk explains he is for. "Prop 99 puts realistic limits on our ability to use eminent domain; in particular it doesn't allow us to take someone's single family home for private purposes."

Proposition 99, called The Homeowners Protection Act will prohibit government from using eminent domain to take a home and transfer it to a private developer. Proposition 99 offers protection to both the home owner and renters while leaving rent control laws as they are. The Proposition will also leave the right for eminent domain to be used for other public work projects such as schools, roads and bridges. Opponents for Proposition 98 are choosing to stand behind Prop 99 instead.

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