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After early slight lead, Prop. 90 defeated

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After taking a slight lead in early counts, a major ballot initiative that could change California's eminent domain laws and the way the state handles zoning laws now seems to have lost some support as about half of the state's precincts counted.

With 100 percent of the votes in, 52.5 percent of voters are saying "no" to Proposition 90.

Earlier, with 21 percent of precincts reporting, the measure had a slight lead.

The proposition prevents state and local governments from seizing property for private use and requires the government to compensate property owners if it creates new laws that would result in "substantial economic losses" to the property.

Certain laws are exempt from the measure, including laws already in place and laws that are created to protect the public health. However, new regulations such as downzoning property, limiting the use of private air space, or eliminating access to a building, would all fall under the guise of the measure.

Supporters say that it is long awaited reform for eminent domain laws. For years, property owners throughout the country have watched as local governments seize and raze their businesses for private redevelopment.

But critics, which in San Diego includes almost every organization that deals with land use and development, say that it is a "bait and switch" that will cost California taxpayers millions of dollars.

The bait, they say, is eminent domain reform. The switch is the section in the ballot language that forces government to pay landowners for law changes that impact their property. These critics say that it amounts to a "blank check" from the California taxpayers.

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