City may use eminent domain for cannery plan: Inside Bay Area, Daily Review (San Francisco CA), 7/20/05

Hayward City Council votes to raze industrial area to continue redevelopment

By Matt O'Brien

The city [of Hayward CA] is gearing up to demolish eight homes and take a nearby slice of industrial property by eminent domain in the latest phase of the cannery area redevelopment project.

As part of an implementation plan approved by the Hayward City Council as it acted as the city's redevelopment authority on Tuesday night, the city will begin clearing out an old residential block on C Street in August to make way for the future expansion of the Burbank Elementary School.

The city redevelopment agency bought the last two of about half a dozen old houses near the intersection of C and Filbert streets in April, and all the houses have since been vacated and boarded up.

Maret Bartlett, Hayward's redevelopment director, said none of the homes had historic significance.

There are eight legal dwellings on the site, seven of which were recently occupied. Of those seven, three were occupied by low- to moderate-income households, meaning the city has worked to make other affordable homes available, according to a city report.

But one obstacle, a 26,000-square-foot strip of industrial land just south of the homes, remains in the way of the city's plans to clear out the area to begin work on the school project.

The property's owner, Moses Libitsky, felt the city's proposed purchase price of $351,000, offered in February, was too little, Bartlett said.

So on Tuesday night city council members, after holding a closed session on the matter last week, unanimously voted to authorize the city to take that property by eminent domain if negotiations fail.

"We do think it is still possible to settle this matter," Bartlett told the council at the meeting Tuesday night.

Libitsky, whose office is in Emeryville, did not attend the Tuesday hearing.

The city's redevelopment agency has the authority to take land in a district that is deemed blighted and defined as a redevelopment district. Government eminent domain powers were further strengthened nationwide following a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The strip of land in question is a small part of Libitsky's 9.45-acre property, a large industrial area that once belonged to the Hunt-Wesson Cannery. Libitsky bought the property in 1990, and two tenants, with leases that expire in 2010, use the site.

The site is the only large warehouse property in the cannery redevelopment district where developers are not actively working through the process of developing new homes.

There will eventually be roughly 800 new high-density homes in the old cannery area.

Inside Bay Area, Daily Review: www.insidebayarea.com/review