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John Byrne
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Grumpy Old Guy

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Posted: 03 June 2023 at 12:58pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Stolen Land?
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Kevin Brown
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Posted: 03 June 2023 at 2:33pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Unfortunately, California has a long history of that.  Within the last 100 years, too.  Reading that article that you posted thankfully reminded me of the court fight by the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce.

Here's hoping these families can get their land back.


Edited by Kevin Brown on 03 June 2023 at 2:37pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 03 June 2023 at 3:52pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I wonder what property taxes are like in California?
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 03 June 2023 at 7:41pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

16th lowest in the US. Prop 13 limits property taxes to 1% of the assessed value. So if you have owned your house for a long time, your taxes are low. If you are a newer homeowner your taxes are higher because of currently high property values. Arguably, Prop 13 is one of the drivers of high home prices because it disincentivizes people from “trading up” their homes, exacerbating the current scarcity. 

The other issue is that commercial properties have avoided being reassessed by transferring the legal entity that owns the real estate, which means there’s no “new owner”. So land is being taxed at the value it was in the 70s. 

There’s been attempts to try to fix these issues, but Prop 13 is the third rail of California politics. 
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John Wickett
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Posted: 03 June 2023 at 8:01pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

"Here's hoping these families can get their land back."

What complicates these matters in many cases is that after the land was stolen, it was sold to third party bona fide purchasers.  So you'd be taking the land away from a current owner who bought it in good faith.

In those instances, I think the better solution is to pay the families the current market value of the land.  But I agree that in instances where the land is owned by the government, ie the examples in the story where the land is the site of a park or memorial, it should be returned to the families, unless the families are willing to sell it.

Unfortunately, in reality I suspect the state will use adverse possession laws to keep the land, and settle with families for pennies on the dollar.
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Steve Coates
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Posted: 03 June 2023 at 8:41pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Postulating the displaced owners had 2 children, who had 2 children, repeating through seven generations, results in 128 descendants or more.


Edited by Steve Coates on 04 June 2023 at 12:22pm
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Kevin Brown
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Posted: 04 June 2023 at 2:57am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

So you'd be taking the land away from a current owner who bought it in good faith.

************************************

Stolen property is stolen property.  If you bought a car in good faith, but it's determined to have been stolen, even though the person who sold it to you didn't know, the car would be seized and returned to the owner.  Same should happen here. And, as an FYI, that happened to a friend of mine when she bought a car for her daughter. 
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John Wickett
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Posted: 04 June 2023 at 4:15am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

"Stolen property is stolen property."

Actually that's not true.  There is a distinction between real property (land) and personal property (any other tangible goods you may own, including a car).  A bona fide purchaser of real property (someone who buys without notice of a defect in the title) has legal protections that are not afforded to someone who buys a stolen car.  

We are speaking of property as "stolen" because morally, that is what happened.  But in many of these instances a legal transfer of title occurred, and that makes a difference.

A good example from the article JB cited is the property that was seized by the treasurer, after she claimed the family defaulted on a payment.  If the treasurer took title to the property by foreclosing on a loan or a lien for unpaid property taxes, and everything was properly recorded, then anyone who bought the property from the treasurer (without notice of a dispute over the title) would be considered a bona fide purchaser, and they would get to keep the land.  The family would have no recourse against the buyer, but if they could prove title should not have passed to the treasurer, they could sue the treasurer (or the state) for money damages.

Unfortunately, even that option will be unavailable to most of these families because of statutes of limitations.  After all these years, it is too late for them to come forward and assert a legal claim to the property.

Some of the families probably also lost title via adverse possession.  If the legitimate owner of a piece of real property neglects or abandons the property, a third party can take title by occupying the property over a period of time that is set by statute.

Every state has adverse possession laws.  The law in each state says how long the adverse party (the person who occupies the land) must be there, and sets forth any other obligations.  For instance, most states require that the adverse party's use of the land be "open and notorious," meaning their presence on the land is obvious and apparent to the public and the owner.  Some states require the use to be exclusive, meaning that the adverse possessor prevents anyone else from using the property (by erecting a fence, for example).  Many states also require that the adverse possessor pay property taxes during the years when they occupied the land.

So in an instance where a black property owner fled the area after their house, church, or business was burned down, someone came in behind them and occupied the property.  If that person met the requirements for adverse possession, then they legally obtained title to the property.  Anyone who bought from them would also be a bona fide purchaser, immune from having the property seized by the state and returned to a previous owner.

The fact is, in most cases where the state is being asked to pay reparations to black families who's land was "stolen" in CA, the goal is to have the state meet a moral obligation; not a legal one.  That is one of the hurdles here, because the state's response to some of these families will be that legally, there is nothing California can do to get their property back.


Edited by John Wickett on 04 June 2023 at 4:35am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 June 2023 at 1:37pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

It would seem the point of my thread title is being missed.
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David Teller
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Posted: 04 June 2023 at 2:09pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Being British, I have no idea about the nuances of Native American culture, tribes and nations.

Was there a specific one in California? 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 June 2023 at 2:18pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Only the same as across the country.

There is a deep irony in any people (whatever their race) claiming their land was stolen. Who had that land first?

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James Johnson
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Posted: 04 June 2023 at 5:53pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

True Dat, JB!
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