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Eminent Domain in Imperial Beach, 9/27/10

By A.J. Hazarabedian

The city of Imperial Beach will commence eminent domain proceedings to acquire a leasehold interest from Southbay Drugs owner, Shawki Bachoua.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in their article, “Eminent domain to begin soon against IB merchant,” that a settlement could not be reached between the city and the business owner.  The city plans to demolish the old structure and replace it with a “more modern, 45,300-square-foot shopping center.”

Last week, City Council members voted to adopt a resolution of necessity, even with arguments from Mr. Bachoua’s attorney regarding an ongoing eviction issue.

Eminent domain proceedings could begin within the next six months.

City of Fontana Acquiring Property for Citrus Ave./I-10 Interchange Project, 9/22/10

By A.J. Hazarabedian

The city of Fontana may use eminent domain to acquire a property near the 10 freeway for the Citrus Ave./I-10 Interchange Improvement project.

The city will be deciding whether or not to adopt a resolution of necessity to acquire property, owned by Calabasas Property Inc., by eminent domain.

A resolution of necessity is a government agency’s formal decision to acquire property by eminent domain.  It must be adopted before the condemning agency (in this case, the city of Fontana) can commence an eminent domain action in court.

As explained further in our California Eminent Domain Handbook, in order to adopt a resolution of necessity, the government agency must find that the project for which the property is to be acquired is necessary, that the property is necessary for the public project, that the project is located in such a manner as to offer the greatest public benefit with the least private detriment, and that an offer to purchase the property has been made.

These issues will be discussed during the upcoming council meeting.  According to the San Bernardino Sun article, “Fontana eyes freeway,” the city is in negotiations with the property owner and has made an offer.

The city plans to begin construction in 2011, replacing the existing four-lane Citrus Avenue bridge with a new six-lane freeway interchange.

Calabasas Property Inc. will have an opportunity to address the city council at the next city council meeting.

West Oakland’s Eminent Domain Policy May Change For New Grocery Store, 9/20/10

By A.J. Hazarabedian

West Oakland may amend their eminent domain policy to include commercial properties.  This potential change came about due to the rising need for a new grocery store in town.

The San Francisco Business Times blog Bay Area BizTalk featured a posted titled, “Talks of Eminent Domain Stirs Fears in West Oakland,” discussing the possible acquisition of a “five-acre piece of land at the corner of West Grand Avenue and Filbert Street that currently has an industrial warehouse and an auto body shop sitting on it.”  This land would be used by Foods Co. which is part of Kroger, for a grocery store in a town which has been dubbed “a grocery desert.”

According to the blog, Foods Co. has been attempting negotiations with the property owners to purchase the property, but has not been successful.  The post also mentions residents fears that if the eminent domain policy has changed to include commercial properties, residential properties may not be too far behind.

The redevelopment agency will discuss the potential amendment in a hearing on October 5, 2010.

It should be noted that this is precisely the type of exercise of eminent domain that has created a great deal of public distrust in recent years.  That the City may want to see a grocery store in the area is understandable.  To take private property from its owner to turn it over to a private grocery chain, however, is quite another thing.

First Middle School in Southwest Fresno May Mean Eminent Domain, 9/20/10

By A.J. Hazarabedian

More than two dozen homes could be acquired to build a new middle school in Southwest Fresno.  The middle school would be a first in the area, ending a 30 year long debate surrounding the issue.

Fresno’s ABC30 reports that the Superintendent of the Fresno Unified School District, Michael Hansen, gave a presentation recently on a plan to create the area’s first middle school where Carver Academy is located.  “To accomplish this plan, more than two dozen homes next to the school will have to be purchased and then demolished,” says the article.

Taking these homes to build the school would be considered a public use, and therefore the homes could be taken by eminent domain.

Eminent domain is the power of local, state or federal government agencies to take private property for “public use” so long as the government pays “just compensation”.  The government can exercise its power of eminent domain even if the owner does not wish to sell his or her property.

The article, “Middle school in Southwest Fresno would be first,” states that the district Superintendent “hopes to have this middle school built by 2013.”  It will go to vote this week.

Ukiah’s Palace Hotel May Be Acquired By Eminent Domain, 9/20/10

By A.J. Hazarabedian

The Palace Hotel in the city of Ukiah is getting closer to being acquired by eminent domain.  We wrote about this story in March, when the Press-Democrat first reported Ukiah’s desire to reinstate their eminent domain authority.  Now, six months later, it looks like its actually going to happen.

The Ukiah Daily Journal reported last week that the Ukiah City Council voted to begin the process of reinstating the power of eminent domain for its Redevelopment Agency.

While the article, titled “Three areas recommended for eminent domain,” discusses the potential for eminent domain authority to be limited to a few areas, City Manager Jane Chambers stated “at this point, the only structure this is affecting is the Palace Hotel.”  One resident is quoted in the article, describing the blighted hotel as a “black hole that sucks up positive energy.”

With their new eminent domain authority, the city will have the ability to take the property for redevelopment.

COPYRIGHT © 2010 Arthur J. Hazarabedian, Esq.