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Imminently concerned: A local view of eminent domain
Cupertino's land use shot heard far and wide
Eminent Domain Project at Standstill Despite Ruling
Blight Makes Right: October 26, San Diego
Eminent Domain in N.J. - Now They Just Steal Land
Senate & Assembly Committee Joint Interim Hearing on Redevelopment & Blight. Weingart City Heights Library, S.D.
PROPERTIES THROUGHOUT MOST OF BERKELEY LIKELY TO BE SUBJECT TO "TAKING" BY EMINENT DOMAIN
Senate bill would blunt property ruling
Conference on Redevelopment Abuse
San Jose, California. 95103
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September 13, 2005
Blight? Yeah right
National City badly abuses land-seizure law
Union Tribune Editorial
The city of San Diego, with its much-admired downtown ballpark and Horton Plaza projects, has long been the poster child for the wise use of eminent domain: the right of government to seize private property, with just compensation, for what it deems public benefit. But after two outrageous stories in two weeks, a pair of local government bodies may find themselves held up as poster children for eminent domain's misuse – and deservedly.
First came a report on the San Diego Model School Development Agency's push to seize and demolish 188 homes in the thriving City Heights neighborhood to build up to 509 town houses, condos and apartments more to its liking. The 30-acre site is far from the decaying neighborhood normally targeted in redevelopment, but blithe agency bureaucrats from the Soviet school of central planning – knowing they could call the area "blighted" if they chose – didn't care.
Then came yesterday's jaw-dropping story about National City's plan to use its powers of eminent domain to force the Daily family to sell a parcel the family leases to the Mossy family for one of its thriving car dealerships. After the two sides couldn't agree on a sales price, Mossy representatives made plain they would move their Nissan dealership – and the $1 million in annual sales and property taxes it generates for National City – unless the city helped close the deal. The City Council promptly caved in to Mossy's unsavory hardball tactics and, in its role as the city redevelopment board, began looking into seizing the land – after a mysterious epiphany in which members suddenly realized the site suffered from a heretofore undetected case of "visual blight."
Meanwhile, a Union-Tribune public records request proved that most of the council and a top city official had lied in claiming ignorance about the months of maneuvering over the Daily parcel.
What a sordid trifecta for National City's leaders: a simultaneous display of malfeasance, dishonesty and abuse of power. Yes, they should continue working to keep Mossy Nissan in town – but with a sense of shame over what they've already done and without more ugly threats to the Dailys.
If anything will sustain the public backlash seen in California to a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld local governments' right to use eminent domain solely for economic reasons, it is just the sort of official imperiousness seen in these two cases.
What's more, these stories also help demolish the claim of California redevelopment officials that state law – which requires a finding of "blight" before a property can be seized – made impossible the abuse seen elsewhere. But when blight means whatever an ambitious bureaucrat or the local car dealer wants it to, that's no protection at all.
No wonder state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, is confident his push for an initiative to sharply limit eminent domain will make the ballot and win. He doesn't even have to buy ads. All he has to do is sit back and watch the oblivious redevelopment bullies keep making his case for him – one crazy "blight" designation at a time.Posted by Coalition Webbies at September 13, 2005 09:19 PM