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Analyzing the ads: Proposition 98

May 21, 2008|Patrick McGreevy

SACRAMENTO — Proposition 98 on the June 3 ballot asks voters to make decisions about restricting the ability of government to force the sale of properties and about phasing out rent control. Here is an analysis of television and radio advertisements in support of Proposition 98:

Only partly right

A 30-second television ad opens with a narrator saying "Politicians seized Gail Zauss' home." The same words also appear on the screen.

Zauss says in a video, "You lose a lot more than just your home," including friends and family.

A narrator says: "Only Proposition 98 will stop politicians from seizing homes and small businesses and selling them to developers."

Analysis: Zauss sold her home to the city of Baldwin Park in 1978 after the city threatened to use eminent domain to buy her out. The ads' claim that only Proposition 98 will stop politicians from seizing homes and small businesses is only partly right.

A competing measure on the June 3 ballot, Proposition 99, would bar government from using eminent domain to take owner-occupied homes for private development. The independent Legislative Analyst's Office says eminent domain is "seldom used" against single-family homes.

The ad omits the information that Proposition 98 would also phase out rent control in California.

'Taking our home'

Zauss and the issues raised in the television spot are also featured in a radio ad. A second radio ad has also been running, featuring the sound of a school bell and the voices of two children talking about having to move because "the city is taking our home."

One child asks why. The other says, "They want to build a mall."

A narrator says, "Only Proposition 98 stops politicians from seizing homes, businesses, rentals, farms and places of worship and then giving them to developers."

Analysis: Under existing development law, the government cannot seize homes without paying fair market value and without an appeals process in the courts. Although it is true that only Proposition 98 stops government agencies from using eminent domain on businesses, rentals, farms and places of worship, Proposition 99 also protects owner-occupied homes.

The ad neglects to say that Proposition 98 would phase out rent control.

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