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Endorsement watch: Takings

The Chron endorses Prop 11, which is the constitutional amendment to limit eminent domain takings that were allowed by the Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo ruling.

[It] would prohibit “the taking, damaging, or destroying of private property” for purposes of economic development. The Houston Chronicle urges a vote for Proposition 11.

It was for good reason that the high court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London alarmed many property rights advocates here and elsewhere. It upheld the taking by right of eminent domain of private residences by the Connecticut city for purposes of economic development and expanding the tax base. Proposition 11 would prevent takings of property for either of those reasons.

Preventing takings for economic motives is consistent with Texans’ historically strong support for property rights. At the same time, it would not impede eminent domain takings for necessary purposes.

In situations where economic development is the objective it is simple fairness to give property owners the benefits of choice, and of a marketplace sale. To force a sale upon them under such inflexible circumstances is inimical to constitutional principles enumerated in the takings clause.

Opponents contend a constitutional amendment is unnecessary and that the state courts should be allowed to clear up any potential problems in Texas. Maybe so, but that is no match for the carved-in-stone finality of an amendment.

Maybe it’s just my distrust of anything pushed by Rick Perry, but I’m not sold on Prop 11. I fear that this amendment will be interpreted too broadly, and since it’s an amendment it’d be near impossible to fix. But maybe I’m just being paranoid. Can anyone convince me one way or the other on this?

In other constitutional amendment news, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson wrote an op-ed in favor of Prop 9, and in the interest of equal time sent it out with an opposing argument, which was written Pacific Legal Foundation attorney J. David Breemer. You can read Patterson’s piece here, and Breemer’s piece, which is more about the Open Beaches act in general and not specifically about Prop 9, though if you agree with his position you’d certainly vote against it, here.

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  1. Jay Blazek Crossley says:

    Prop 11 is gonna be really unfortunate for Texas in the long run if it passes. Its one of these reactionary anger things that you would hope some sensible statewide leadership would handle, but they don’t. In an ideal world, our state leaders would develop a meaningful comprehensive way of dealing with this eminent domain in a way that is both constitutional and productive, but instead we are going to be in a worse position because these kind of things will be voted on through mass hysteria and misinformation because we don’t have responsible legislative solutions.

    Specifically, I think this will have a huge impact on the potential for transit-oriented development and will further pervert the marketplace in a state that is already so far out of whack with housing and transportation demand. I believe that this will greatly hinder the long term ability of our state to continue gaining population and continue growing our economy. At some point, subsidizing sprawl reaches its limits and when we get there, its going to be a long downward spiral to pay for the many years of short term economic gain for the few. If instead, we had open transparent public agencies developing livable communities with transportation options, Texas should continue to grow in ways that benefit existing communities and the economy for many decades.

    This is basically denying future local leaders a key tool in the toolkit of many things that will be needed to build a sustainable economy and community in the coming decades. We have barely started really working on quality urban planning in Texas and we don’t have experience having meaningful community guided densification, so these reactionaries don’t even know what they’re going to be voting on and what they are going to be denying.

    It would be impossible to actually figure out, but I would guess this vote, if it passes, will have a negative effect on the Texas economy and on Texans’ average incomes.

    For the record, this is a personal statement of mine and not an opinion of my employer.

  2. […] a little suspicious of these three as well, but not as strongly as I am of Prop 11. Any feedback regarding them would be […]

  3. […] can read Patterson’s piece here, which I mentioned on October 13. Patterson also included an anti-Prop 9 article when he sent out his op-ed, which you can read […]