Article Archives – 2010
Alliance President Speaks Out About Glendale Land Grab
12.30.10 – Alliance president calls out developer for using his influence with the Glendale City Council to aquire a hotel by eminent domain in order to expand a shopping mall. Alliance calls tactics “theft” of private property. Read more here!
After 20 Years Proposed Shopping Center Moves Forward
12.27.10 – The South Los Angeles Report reveals that after a messy, 20 year struggle involving eminent domain abuse and gross “political influence and favoritism in the redevelopment process,” the shopping center project pushes forward towards completion. Read full article here.
High-Speed Rail Route Aims at Agricultural Land
12.27.10 – In an effort to bypass towns, high-speed rail officals eyeball agricultural land putting Central Valley farmers on high alert. Read LA Times article here.
Billionaire Developer Bids Higher, Hotelier Holds His Ground
12.24.10 – Despite making it clear that the Golden Key Hotel is not for sale, property owner Ray Patel continues to be hassled by billionaire developer Rick Caruso to sell his land. Patel was given 45 days by the City of Glendale to sell, create redevelopment plans or have his property taken through eminent domain. The Glendale News-Press reports on Caruso’s new offer here and on Patel’s rejection of the offer here.
As Tensions Rise in Glendale, Hotelier Speaks Up
12.21.10 – Pushed by the City of Glendale to sell his property to developer Rick Caruso or be forced out by way of eminent domain, hotel owner Ray Patel gives his side of the story to the Glendale News-Press. Read full article here.
Owner of Fresno Church Shortchanged by School District
12.20.10 – Pastor Luis Milian of La Promesa church fights low offer made by Fresno Unified School District to purchase property for planned elementary school. If a negotiation cannot be made, the District plans to use power of eminent domain. Read full Fresno Bee article or watch KMPH Fox 26 news clip of the story.
L.A. City Officals Lock Local Church Doors and Hide the Key
12.16.2010 – In a shocking turn of events in downtown Los Angeles, commissioner Robert Andrade closes and locks the doors of local church without informing the pastor nor parishers! Reduced to limited hours of operation, it appears the City and Andrade are aiming to take church over completely. For what remains unclear. Full article here.
Legal Challenge to Rancho Cordova Eminent Domain Case Overruled
12.10.2010 – After a long and contentious battle against the city of Rancho Cordova, land owner Sam Fong loses eminent domain case this past week. Despite the overruling, Fong vows to continue fight. Read the full RC Grapevine article.
Glendale Council Pushes Neighorboring Property Owners to Negotiate or Threaten Eminent Domain
12.3.2010 – Glendale City Council recently approved a plan to force neighorbing property owners to sell their buildings to developer Rick Caruso or lose their land through eminent domain. The shocking part? One of the buildings is an up-and-running, 55-room hotel! Read the whole article here. See follow-up editorial in the Glendale News Press by clicking here.
High-Speed Rail Deemed “Train to Nowhere”
11.29.2010 – As the Feds dump billions of dollars into a project Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters calls “the train to nowhere,” UC Researchers suggest the High Speed Rail Authority grossly overestimates ridership and revenues from the project. Read full article here.
Popular San Marcos Restaurant Required to Move for Housing Development
11.15.2010 – The North County Times reports Mr. Taco in San Marcos, which opened in 1985 is being forced to relocate in Vista to accomodate the construction of a planned affordable housing complex. Read more here!
California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights Endorses Michael Booth
11.2.10 – The Alliance recently endorsed candidate Michael Booth for Vista City Council as he represents a strong voice for redevelopment reform and vows to fight eminent domain abuse in Vista! To learn more about Mr. Booth, click here.
San Joaquin County Officials Take Aim at Ranch Land Through Eminent Domain
10.27.2010 – With their sights set on thousands of acres of ranch land, San Joaquin County water officials prepare to use eminent domain and this follows lawsuits! Read more by clicking here!
Rancho Cordova Eminent Domain Fight Continues in Court
10.25.10 – The Sacramento Bee reports on landowner and developer Lily Co. fighting to block the Rancho Cordova Redevelopment Agency from taking 9.5 acres through eminent domain. Read full story!
Azusa Uses Eminent Domain to Acquire Furniture Station
10.22.2010 – Azusa City officals celebrate an eminent domain victory against the Furniture Station despite the fact that the property was not considered blighted! Full article here.
Rancho Cordova Small Business Owners Continue Zoning Battle
10.18.10 – The Sacramento Business Journal reports on the continued push from the City of Rancho Cordova to change zoning codes threatening small businesses along Folsom Boulevard, as well as the building eminent domain battle one local business owner continues to face. Read more.
Local Rancho Cordova Business Owners Form Coalition
10.15.10 – Rancho Cordova small business owners formed the Rancho Cordova Small Business Coalition in response to changes in local Zoning Codes, threats of eminent domain and other potential abuse of property rights being imposed by the City. Read more here.
Oakland Land Owner Faces Eminent Domain Threat for Second Time
10.4.10 –The Oakland City Council is hoping to expand its power of eminent domain to acquire property proposed for a supermarket. This is the second time the property owner has been threatened by eminent domain! Without even contacting the property owner to see if he would sell his property willingly, the City appears to be moving towards stealing it outright! Read more.
Upcoming Event – Conference on Redevelopment Abuse
Please join the 15th Annual Northern California Conference on Redevelopment Abuse on October 1st, 8am – 4:30pm at the Sacramento Sheraton.
Assemblyman Chris Norby and other public officials, labor leaders, attorneys and community activists concerned about financial and property abuses by California Redevelopment Agencies will be in attendence! For more information, please visit our Events link or click here.
New State Water Project Threatens Family Pear Business
9.12.10 – The Bee reports on a family farming operation threatened by a new State water project. The State is using eminent domain to acquire property that has been in the family pear business for generations. Read more.
Prop. 22 – Defending the Indefensible
9.12.10 – In the Orange County Register editorial, “Prop 22. defends the indefensible” the Register makes the case for voters to oppose Prop 22. Click here to read more.
LA City Council Approves Shopping Mall on Seized Private Property
9.9.10 – Yesterday Los Angeles City Council approved plans to build a shopping mall in South Central LA. The land had been seized through eminent domain from resident Stanley Kramer and despite legal efforts to prevent the mall from being built, the project will move forward. Click here for more on this private property injustice.
Legislation to Undermine State Redevelopment Law
September 8 , 2010 – Read Bee columnist Dan Walter’s column on how special interest groups are trying to use their influence in the State Capitol to reverse redevelopment reforms that protect private property from eminent domain abuse. Shocking? No. Read more.
Rancho Cordova Land Grab Featured on “Fox and Friends”
August 19, 2010 – Today, a Rancho Cordova land grab case was featured on the nationally syndicated “Fox and Friends” show. To view this outrageous example of eminent domain abuse, click here. This is a classic example of how developers can work with local government to acquire private property on the cheap!
Continued news coverage of the City of Rancho Cordova’s ongoing efforts to use eminent domain to seize private property from unwilling sellers…
August 10, 2010 – Learn how a local property owner had a deal to sell his property for over $8 million to a community college. Then the City of Rancho Cordova intervened by using eminent domain to seize the property and offered the property owner more than 50% less for the property so that they can sell it to the very same community college for a profit! Unbelievable? Yes, but true! Click here to see “On the Money” coverage of this developing story.
Vista Committee Members Question Redevelopment Spending
July 19, 2010 – While the City of Vista is in the process of acquiring numerous downtown properties which officials “hope to sell . . . to private developers who will construct mixed-use buildings,” members of the Project Area Committee are questioning what the City has been spending its redevelopment money on. Click here to read the North County Times article.
High-Speed Rail Concerns in Gilroy
July 19, 2010 – Residents and community leaders in Gilroy are becoming increasingly cynical about the High-Speed Rail Project as property owners worry about property condemnations, eminent domain and other impacts. Yet, the community has yet to get any answers from the rail authority with Council Member Perry Woodward saying, “to a large extent, I just think this is a dog-and-pony show they’re putting on.” Read the recent Gilroy Dispatch articles – “Property owners brace for fight with High-Speed Rail Authority” and “Halt the bullet”.
Redevelopment Done Right
July 11, 2010 – The Bay area city of Newark has approved a redevelopment strategy that leaders hope will rejuvenate the local economy. Unlike many communities who use redevelopment to seize homes and businesses for private development, the City of Newark decided not to include the power of eminent domain. Instead, the city plans to work with property owners to make community improvements. Read more.
Redevelopment Agencies – Community Asset or Detriment?
July 5, 2010 – While the City of Fontana’s redevelopment agency is among the wealthiest in the state, the San Bernardino Sun examines whether redevelopment agencies are the valuable assets city officials claim or really just “corporate welfare centers for well-connected developers.” Read more.
Where Does U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Kagan Stand on Kelo?
June 27, 2010 – Columnist George F. Will proposes some tough questions for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, including addressing the 2005 Kelo vs. New London decision which said “government can seize property for the ‘public use’ of transferring it to wealthier private interests who will pay more taxes to the government.” Click here to read more.
Rancho Cordova City Council Refuses to Sign Private Property Rights Pledge
June 16. 2010 – Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Kelo v. New London decision that sanctioned government’s ability to forcibly seize private property from unwilling sellers for the purpose of economic development, elected officials throughout the U.S. have rejected this invitation to abuse private property rights by signing the “Hands Off My Home Pledge” – a pledge members of the Rancho Cordova City Council have refused to sign!
So, why hasn’t even one member of the council signed the pledge? Is it because they support ongoing efforts to use eminent domain to seize private property along Folsom Boulevard and within the city’s redevelopment district? Their silence should concern local property owners for until Rancho Cordova’s elected leaders sign the pledge or pass a local ordinance limiting their power of eminent domain, the threat of abuse is very real.
Click here to learn how private property rights are under attack in Rancho Cordova.
City of Stockton’s “Gross Abuse of Discretion” in Eminent Domain Taking
June 8, 2010 – The City of Stockton will pay a $2.5 million settlement following a 2004 land acquisition a court called a “gross abuse of discretion.” The Marina Tower property was taken by eminent domain and demolished in 2004 with the city allegedly planning to hand it over to a private developer to build apartments. Read the Stockton Record article.
Redevelopment Plans Falter along Metro Gold Line Expansion
June 6, 2010 – While city officials bemoan the loss of redevelopment funds to the state, too often these funds were misused to seize property for private development. Redevelopment plans around the proposed Metro Gold Line expansion in several Southern California communities are faltering. In Azusa, property assembled for a proposed retail project may be at risk because the city “can no longer afford to part with the land at below-market prices.” And the City of Arcadia blames their challenges on an ordinance limiting eminent domain. “We don’t have that leverage that we could use to negotiate,” says City Manager Don Penman. Read more.
High-Speed Rail Saga Continues
May 17, 2010 – In yet another setback for the proposed High-Speed rail development, Union Pacific, which operates freight trains up and down the state, is objecting to plans to place high-speed rail tracks next to its tracks for some 200 miles. Union Pacific’s opposition follows reports of increasing costs for the proposal as well as concern from property owners who will be impacted and possibly lose their homes by eminent domain to make way for the rail system. The San Diego Union-Tribune says of the high-speed rail proposal, “The rail authority’s problem with Union Pacific is just one more powerful reason to call it quits.”
City of Indio Sits on Seized Property
May 17, 2010 – The Indio City Council is continuing their long history of eminent domain abuse, taking properties with no plans to use these properties to build schools, roads or for any other “public use.” Instead, the city’s misguided redevelopment efforts over the past 20+ years have cost over $20 million dollars and left vacant eyesores, with the city holding on to the properties until they can sell it off to developers. Longtime resident Al Meza, whose business was taken in the late 80’s “said he has yet to see something tangible come from the city-owned properties.” Read more.
Redevelopment Money Better Spent Elsewhere
May 7, 2010 – Last week, a Superior Court ruling upheld the State Legislature’s authority over redevelopment agency money, requiring local redevelopment agencies throughout the state to hand more than $2.7 billion over to the state for education spending. In this Orange County Register opinion piece, State Assemblyman Chris Norby cites failed redevelopment programs as a “permanent drain on the budget,” saying “Last year, redevelopment agencies diverted $5.4 billion in local taxes within their zones – 12 percent of all property taxes. That amounted to $2.7 billion taken from public schools. . .” He also addresses the fact that redevelopment, often under the threat of eminent domain, often benefits developers and giant retailers at the expense of property owners and taxpayers. Read more.
San Pablo Drops Plans to Reinstate Eminent Domain
May 4, 2010 – Due to public outrage, the City of San Pablo reversed course and dropped plans to reinstate its redevelopment agency’s power of eminent domain. Residents feared that eminent domain would be used to seize their property for the benefit of out of town developers. “Instead of being for the people, you are for the developers,” resident Adolfo Sanchez told the City Council. The Alliance applauds the San Pablo City Council for making the fair decision to protect the community’s private property rights. Read the Contra Costa Times article by clicking here.
San Jose’s Pursuit of A’s Stadium Could Cost Property Owners – And Taxpayers
April 25, 2010 – The City of San Jose continues to pursue plans to lure the Oakland A’s Major League Baseball team to town. However, the plan will require San Jose to spend millions of dollars to assemble the property and even more to improve access to the stadium. The city currently owns less than half the property needed for the A’s stadium. And despite a $116 million budget deficit, the city has budgeted $35 million over the next 5 years to buy properties to complete the project – properties that include homes, small businesses and a 72-year-old book wholesaler who haven’t been asked if they want to sell. Should any of these property owners hold out, the city could use eminent domain to take their homes and small businesses – even if the ballpark never materializes! According to the San Jose Mercury News, if the ballpark plan falls through, the city “plans to continue buying up the 14 acres and build a mix of offices, housing and retail at the site.” “The city’s just thinking about themselves,” said an employee of an industrial gas supply company which sits on the location of the proposed field and who hopes they won’t have to relocate.
Rancho Cordova – Demolishing Private Property Rights
April 23, 2010 – At an April meeting of the Rancho Cordova City Council, the City leaders adopted a series of policy “priorities,” including one that involves the use of eminent domain, government’s power to seize private property from unwilling sellers for the benefit of developers. As originally drafted, the priority read to “Demolish a private sector building each year.” Hard to believe they said this, but they did!
This is not fair and is why eminent domain has no place among the city’s “priorities,” no matter how it is phrased. The Alliance has joined with local property owners who believe that a more deserving priority would be redevelopment practices that encourage urban renewal without threatening people’s homes and small businesses. Hopefully, the City Council can see the benefits of sharing these values and reverse course on an agenda to “demolish” private property rights.
San Pablo Residents Oppose Reinstating Eminent Domain
April 17, 2010 – San Pablo residents are opposing the city’s plans to reinstate the power of eminent domain for 12 more years. Residents are fearful that Prop. 99, a statewide measure passed by voters in 2008, contains loopholes that will not protect homeowners should the city desire to use eminent domain to take their property for commercial development. Read the Contra Costa Times article by clicking here.
Voters in Sierra Madre Approve Measure Limiting Eminent Domain
April 15, 2010 – Voters in Sierra Madre scored a victory for property rights on Tuesday when they overwhelmingly approved Measure ED, limiting the city’s power of eminent domain. The measure prohibits the city from using eminent domain for private purposes without the property owner’s consent. To read the article, click here.
High Speed Rail Proposal Concerns Peninsula Property Owners
April 6, 2010 – Property Owners in communities throughout the San Francisco Bay area Peninsula are voicing concerns about the proposed High Speed Rail. The main concerns include the use of eminent domain to take properties, and noise and vibration caused by the train. The rail authority has proposed the Pacheco Pass through the Peninsula as the Bay Area route. Click here to learn more as well as where affected property owners can submit comments.
Martinez Community Fights Redevelopment Plans
March 31, 2010 – The Martinez community is once again fighting City Hall’s attempts to establish a Redevelopment Agency. Community members fear that redevelopment will take money away from schools, police and other community services. They also fear the use of eminent domain to take private property. While redevelopment plans have been discussed for the past 50 years, opponents have so far prevailed in preventing the formation of a redevelopment agency. To read the story in the Contra Costa Times, click here.
Caltrans as a Landlord?
March 25, 2010 – A glaring example of the misuse of eminent domain by government agencies, Pasadena Weekly reports that Caltrans owns more than 18,000 homes, apartment buildings and farms throughout California, all seized through eminent domain for planned freeway construction. Yet, the state is holding on to this surplus property while freeway construction has stalled, often for decades. In L.A.’s 710 corridor, Caltrans owns nearly 500 homes, most seized in the 1960’s with plans to tear down the homes and build a freeway connector. However, due to funding, the project will likely never be built. Instead of selling these properties, Caltrans becomes a landlord – with properties either rented or sitting vacant – and with California’s taxpayers footing the bill.
San Francisco Redevelopment Threatens African American Community
March 21, 2010 – Not long ago, San Francisco and the Fillmore district was a thriving African American community of 100,000 strong. Following the ‘urban renewal’ efforts of the 1970’s, the African American population shrunk to a mere 40,000. Today, Bayview Hunters Point has been called the “last bastion of concentrated Black life” in the city. Now, residents of the Bayview Hunters Point area are again faced with a city’s redevelopment plan that threatens to drive even more out of the community. According to an article by Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D., the redevelopment project threatens to “deprive the African American people of Bayview Hunters Point of land, historical legacy and culture in a region where they have predominated as an ethnic group since the World War II era.”
Stockton Resident Supports Proposition 16 – Opposes SSJID’s Eminent Domain Action Against PG&E
March 20, 2010 – A letter to the editor in the Stockton Record points out the positive effects of Proposition 16, which will appear on the ballot this June. The letter says, “South San Joaquin Irrigation District has accumulated millions of taxpayer dollars because certain bonds are now paid off. That money belongs to us, the people in the district. Instead, SSJID has already squandered $12 million in its quixotic misadventure to take over PG&E’s electric power business in the south county – without the consent of the voters. It will likely cost the people hundreds of millions more dollars if it succeeds, via eminent domain, in taking PG&E’s business.”
Waterfront Property Owners in Stockton Fight City Plans
March 19, 2010 – Property owners on Stockton’s Deep Sea Channel are fighting the city’s Waterfront Connection Plan. The project would connect over 5 miles of waterfront property to create a pedestrian/bicycle trail. While the city believes the project will help revitalize downtown, property owners rightly believe the loss of waterfront property will devalue their land by some 25 percent. One property owner, Greg Culhane said, “If you take my waterfront, you’re taking the soul and the heart of my property, the reason I bought that property.” To read the story in the Stockton Record, click here.
Lack of Eminent Domain Reforms Threatens Milpitas Property Owners
March 18, 2010 – Proposition 99 continues to fail small business owners in Milpitas. The city has scheduled two upcoming meetings to consider “reinstating eminent domain over non-residential uses in the amendment areas” as well as add some 600 acres to the redevelopment project area. While the city claims no eminent domain action will be taken on residential properties, small businesses, churches and many other properties that create jobs and shape our communities have no protections. To learn more about the threat to small business owners, read the Milpitas Post article by clicking here.
Vista Redevelopment Committee Member Warns Community of Eminent Domain
March 17, 2010 – While the City of Vista has plans to take property by eminent domain for private development, the North County Times reports that Jerome Hymes, a member of the City of Vista’s redevelopment Project Area Committee is standing up for local property owners. Hymes distributed a letter to local businesses warning that “their property may be in danger of being seized by the city,” and stating that the city has “no intentions to treat property owners as partners” in the redevelopment process. Hymes told his colleagues on the Committee that he distributed the letter to educate downtown business owners and “Sometimes it takes a public to get government or cities to listen,” Hymes said. “If other people are asking, maybe you’ll see it as important.” To read the article, click here.
High Speed Rail: Troubles in Southern California
February 12, 2010 – The California High Speed Rail Authority’s plan to bring a bullet train to the state is not only hitting roadblocks in the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California communities are expressing concerns too! The City of Glendale has discovered that the proposed tracks would run right through land that is currently slated for a $20 million dollar mixed use development that they purport is critical to their local economy. Perhaps, Councilman Ara Najarian said it best, “What should we tell them [the developers]? Back off? There’s going to be eminent domain?” Read the Burbank Leader article by clicking here.
Seven Year Old Eminent Domain Case: Over, But Not Forgotten
Seven long years ago, the City of San Jose bungled an eminent domain attempt on the Tropicana shopping center. Yesterday the all but-forgotten property rights story became center stage in a debate between candidates seeking a spot on the San Jose City Council. The San Jose Mercury reports that, “Some of the more pointed questions came from the Tropicana merchants addressing the city’s failed 2003 eminent domain takeover of the shopping center that ended in settlements costing taxpayers $8 million.” It is good to see that property owners are holding those seeking public office accountable for their actions and ensuring that they understand and respect the property rights of those that they serve.
California High Speed Rail: The Saga Continues
January 19, 2010 – Once again the California High Speed Rail is proving too good to be true. As we have said before, the train will make its way through cities, usurping the land that is needed for the rail by seizing private property through eminent domain. Now, a column in the San Jose Mercury News is reporting that ticket prices, which were promoted to voters as reasonable, are intended to compete with plane tickets. Though the High Speed Rail might have showed some promise, it is slowly turning into a bureaucratic nightmare. Landowners beware!
BALLOT MEASURE QUALIFIES FOR JUNE BALLOT
January 14, 2010 – The Secretary of State reports that a statewide ballot measure that will make it more difficult for public agencies to seize private utility companies by eminent domain has qualified for the June ballot. For example, if the measure qualifies the South San Joaquin Irrigation District will have to place their plan to seize PG&E’s property by eminent domain on the ballot – essentially dooming their scheme. Read the San Francisco Chronicle article by clicking here.
Property rights champion wins Assembly seat!
January 12, 2010 – Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby has been elected to the California State Assembly! Norby has also been actively involved in our organization and with Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform where he played a major role in authoring Redevelopment: The Unknown Government — an extensive report on eminent domain abuse and redevelopment in California and what can be done about it. Congratulations Assemblyman-elect Norby! Read more about Norby’s win in the by clicking here.
Property owners sue to prevent government from accessing their land
January 11, 2010 – The State is seeking access to 170 properties for the purpose of exporting Northern California water to Southern California. Properties owners are suing to stop the government from trappeling on their property. Read the Stockton Record editorial by clicking here.
Political scholar pens insightful piece on Brooklyn Yards
January 4, 2010 – The Alliance has been following this story for some time, but George Will has penned an insightful piece on the Brooklyn Yards eminent domain scandal. Will chronicles the woe of an area that is by no means blighted (despite the city’s best attempts to call it such) and the attempts of a billionaire developer to get his way, no matter what the cost, in order to build a sports arena.
Property owner comes out on top in lawsuit brought on by city
January 4, 2010 – The City of Pittsburg has finally settled the lawsuit they brought against the innocent owner of Marine Express because he refused give up his property! While rare, we are happy to report that the owner prevailed. To learn more about this story, read the Contra Costa Times article by clicking here.
Could federal stimulus dollars be used for eminent domain?
January 3, 2010 – The City of Rosemead has reinstated the use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes. However, their city “renewal plan” explicitly calls for using stimulus dollars to seize private property from unwilling sellers. Are federal tax dollars intended to create jobs being used to seize private property? We’ll soon see. To read the Pasadena Star-News article, click here.