10/01/2004

National City reschedules hearing on eminent domain
San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/1/04

By Elizabeth White

The City Council and Community Development Commission are scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday on a proposal to expand National City's eminent domain powers.

The hearing began Sept. 21, but the size of the crowd that showed up at City Hall caused hearing Chairman Ron Morrison to stop the meeting and reschedule it for Tuesday so everyone could be accommodated. The hearing will now be held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, which is next to City Hall, at 140 E. 12th St.

The city has an ambitious plan for redevelopment over the next several years, and leaders want the city to have the power to acquire properties to meet their goals.

The proposal would allow the city to acquire commercial and industrial properties west of Interstate 805, an area of 2,400 acres. The expanded authority would not include any residential property, a fact that has confused some residents in the past few weeks.

Because of the overwhelming response to the public hearing, the CDC is recommending the city slow the approval process to make sure residents feel they have been heard, said Byron Estes, deputy director of redevelopment for the CDC.

Instead of trying to finish the process by the end of November, Estes said the city will take more public comment on Tuesday, hold a workshop with the community Nov. 15 and then look at taking a vote on the proposal in January. This timeline will go to the council for approval.

"We heard loud and clear," Estes said. "We really need to have more community involvement. We've heard so much from people."

The city has received about five written responses to the eminent domain proposal. About 20 people had filled out slips to speak at the Sept. 21 hearing. The city has also made a list of frequently asked questions available at City Hall.

The voting members of the CDC and City Council are the same. They usually hold separate meetings.


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Elizabeth White: elizabeth.white@uniontrib.com