SACRAMENTO — Most Californians are concerned about government's power to take away private property, but many likely voters remain wary of a clash over two property-rights initiatives on the June 3 ballot, according to a poll released today.

The Public Policy Institute of California survey shows that 7 in 10 voters think the government's power of eminent domain needs some kind of reform after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling narrowed property rights in 2005.

But PPIC poll director Mark Baldassare said the survey indicates that support for the two California ballot proposals is falling short of approval.

Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Cal State East Bay, said that "when faced with confusing propositions, or when in doubt about what the effect of a proposition will be, the public votes no."

Voters are particularly uncertain of Proposition 98, a broad property-rights measure that also would end rent controls across the state. At the same time, Baldassare said, the institute found that a majority of voters — 54 percent — back caps on rents.

Prop. 98 is opposed by 48 percent of voters and supported by 30 percent, with more than a fifth of voters undecided.

While support for the proposition has eroded since March, the number of undecided voters has remained the same.


Advertisement

The measure has pitted landlords against tenants in a multimillion-dollar campaign because it also would also phase out rent controls on apartments and mobile home park spaces in the costly Bay Area and Los Angeles regions.

In the Bay Area, Prop. 98 would affect apartments in the cities of San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward and San Francisco, as well as mobile home park spaces in Concord.

The survey found that many voters remain wary of the other eminent domain initiative on the ballot as well.

Prop. 99, sponsored by the League of California Homeowners, is a more narrow property-rights initiative that would bar state and local agencies from taking single-family homes. It is supported by 44 percent of voters and opposed by 36 percent, with 20 percent undecided.

"That so many likely voters are still undecided with only two weeks to go before Election Day is a reflection of the confusion which these ballot measures have generated," Michelson said. "That's often a recipe for success for opponents of propositions."

In other findings, the poll indicated:

n

Most Californians dislike Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest budget proposal to borrow from the state lottery, but they are willing to accept a temporary increase in the sales tax if the pitch to lawmakers and voters fails.

  • The governor's overall approval rating (41 percent) has suffered a double-digit decline, sliding 16 points since December and 12 points from a year ago.

  • If the general election was held now, California voters would favor Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain by 17 points.

    The telephone poll of 1,086 likely voters was conducted May 12-18. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    Reach Steve Geissinger at 916-447-9302 or sgeissinger@bayareanewsgroup.com.