AB2206 – Another Attempt to Weaken Property Rights – from Inyo Clerk/ Recorder Kammi Foote
A barrage of new bills was introduced into the California Legislature recently including a bill that masks a huge blow to property rights under the guise of increased public protection. Assembly Bill 2206 by Assemblyman Gomez is almost identical to AB 2299 introduced in the 2011/2012 legislative session by Assemblyman Feuer. The bill would shield the names of public safety officials from land records, which are currently open to public viewing. The reason put forth is to protect these individuals. However, County Recorders and others familiar with the public land records system, recognize the harmful effects this bill would have on property rights.
Under the provisions of AB2206, certain documents that contain the names of public safety officials would no longer be open to public review. Today anyone can research property records and see every document recorded to evaluate its authenticity. This is crucial with the rise of mortgage and real estate fraud that often financially devastates homeowners.
Providing public access to all property records protects against fraudulent conveyances and prevents a situation where only the government would be able to validate home ownership.
With all documents open to public inspection, California citizens can independently research the records to confirm ownership of their own homes and discover if unauthorized documents were recorded.
A strong property system also protects societies in times of financial instability. In many countries today, the general public is kept economically disadvantaged, partly due to their inability to prove ownership to their land. Early in the history of our nation, previous legislators recognized the value of property rights to protect citizens from poverty. They formalized a way for ordinary people to become landowners, a revolutionary concept. Today many people have forgotten that the public land records system transformed our nation, through the use of property, into a land of opportunity.
There are already lawful systems in place that any member of the public can use to help protect their identity from criminal use of land records. Anyone can create a trust or organization that does not make use of their legal name in the public record, but still allows the public land records system to remain intact for its intended use.
The California legislature must recognize the importance of economic stability and fraud prevention above the desire to protect public safety officials from theoretical threats. We already have existing laws that will protect the identity of public safety officials without harming the property rights of every Californian. I urge the California legislature to vote no on AB 2206.