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SACRAMENTO-A group calling itself Californians for Property Rights Protection is expected to submit more than one million signatures to state election officials here this week for an initiative it wants on the June 2008 ballot. Dubbed the California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act, the initiative would end rent control in addition to restricting governments’ use of eminent domain.

The California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act is similar to Proposition 90, which state voters narrowly rejected last year, in that it seeks to ban the ability of state or local government to condemn privately owned land for the benefit of other private developers. Unlike Proposition 90, the new initiative would also prohibit new rent controls and allow housing owners to raise rents when an existing rent-controlled tenant moves, thereby phasing out rent control over time.

Landowner groups such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation have sought changes in property rights protections since the US Supreme Court in 2005 ruled that government officials may seize and transfer ownership of private land to another private owner when it is meant to aid in the development of urban renewal projects, shopping malls or entertainment facilities.

To get the California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act on the June ballot proponents will need to submit 700,000 eligible signatures by Nov. 26. A random audit by state election officials will be used to verify signatures.

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