By A.J. Hazarabedian
In January 2010, the Azusa City Council voted to purchase Roy Fowler’s property at 17511 E. Arrow Highway by eminent domain. Since then, Mr. Fowler has been fighting the city in an effort to keep his family business open. Furniture Station has been in business for 39 years and Mr. Fowler had no plans of that ending. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, that day has come. Mr. Fowler and the city of Azusa reached a settlement in the eminent domain matter and Furniture Station must move on May 2nd.
The article, “Long-time Azusa furniture store to close after losing battle against city, eminent domain,” is a familiar story: Mom and Pop store fights city to keep property from eminent domain. While a successful challenge to the government’s right to take a particular property for a particular project is possible, it is the exception, not the rule. As we explain in our “California Eminent Domain Handbook,” the challenges usually result only in a delay, rather than outright prevention of the government’s right to take. Each case is different, however, and must be evaluated on its own facts and experienced eminent domain counsel should be consulted.
In the case of Roy Fowler’s property, the article indicates the city believes the property is “blighted, has inadequate parking, and has problems with outside storage of retail product.” Rather than go to trial, Mr. Fowler made the city a settlement offer and with the threat of Government Brown’s proposal to end redevelopment in California, the city accepted. The city paid $1.45 million for the property.