Corning mulls eminent domain: Red Bluff (CA) Daily News, 8/25/05

By Jerome C Crow

The City of Corning will take Tehama County's lead and study whether the council should take a position on a proposed constitutional amendment that will limit the power of eminent domain.

The item had been discussed at a previous board of supervisors meeting and was scheduled for more discussion on Tuesday, but was pulled from the agenda pending a revision in the wording of the amendment and further study by supervisors.

With the wording completed, Willy Preston, field representative for Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, who is sponsoring the proposal in the California State Assembly, addressed the Corning City Council Tuesday evening.

Councilwoman Darlene Dickison expressed her strong desire to support the proposal. She said according to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the government can come and seize private property to sell to other private citizens if they deem a need, and that's unfair.

"At this point, they can just come in and call something blighted and take it from you," said Dickison. "I don't agree with that."

Councilwoman Yvette Zuniga said she felt that it was an issue that the council should vote on as individuals and not take a stand as a council.

"I don't think this is something we should do as a council," said Zuniga. "We should leave private personal politics private."

Mayor Gary Strack asked the council if it should vote Tuesday to support the issue, which led to a discussion of the city's view on the issue.

Preston said the necessity for an immediate action wasn't as necessary as the deadline to place it on the upcoming November election had passed, but that the city's support would be greatly appreciated.

The legislation addresses the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision of Kelo versus the City of New London, Ct., permitting government to seize the property of ordinary citizens for private gain.

"The notion that government can place a higher value on one person's activity and use of their own assets over someone else's is an elitist and dangerous enterprise that connotes the totalitarian thinking of a few making value judgments over the masses," LaMalfa said recently. "I believe this is contrary to our most fundamental constitutional rights."

Consideration of the item will be carried over to the next meeting.

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