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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« November 30, 2005 | | December 2, 2005 »
December 1, 2005

Genest no longer 'acting'

The governor today named Michael Genest as his director of finance. Genest, a former deputy in the office and once the lead fiscal adviser to the Senate Republicans, has been serving as acting Finance Director since Tom Campbell left to work on the Proposition 76 campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:32 PM

Yolo wins Conaway Ranch case

A Yolo County judge has ruled that the government can force the sale of private land -- in this case a 17,000 acre tract of farms and wetlands -- in order to preserve it, even though its private owners have put forward no plans to develop it and the county won't promise that the land will remain undeveloped forever under its stewardship. Here is the Bee's account of the latest twist in the Conaway Ranch case.

And here is an op-ed from Peter Asmus on why Yolo's eminent domain action is a bad idea. An excerpt:

Given that no apparent threat exists to the property and that the current owners have a history of environmental stewardship, I have grave reservations about this specific use of eminent domain in Yolo County and how it would likely impact long-term public/private conservation efforts throughout California.

If Yolo County is successful in forcing landowners to sell their land for conservation purposes, what will stop other public agencies from applying similar "condemn to conserve" strategies in other parts of the state? In the mid-1990s, I co-authored a report for state policymakers on how to improve implementation of the federal Endangered Species Act. Among the many recommendations was the following: If private owners and proponents of projects are to be enlisted in the effort to conserve species, they need incentives and compensation for voluntary ecosystem conservation.

Seizing private property after farmers on the Conaway Ranch have developed what the California Waterfowl Association recently described as a "nationally recognized success story for wildlife-friendly farming practices" is hardly a way to create incentives for other landowners to be good land stewards.

Effective conservation planning requires trust between landowners and government. In Yolo County, thanks to the county's efforts to condemn the Conaway Ranch, that trust is eroding. Instead of working with the current landowners to continue conserving the property, the county is instead attempting to seize the property through eminent domain.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:04 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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