Committee puts eminent domain ordinance on hold: The Daily Independent (Ridgecrest CA), 4/7/06

By John V Ciani

The Ridgecrest City Council Economic Development Committee yesterday put a proposed ordinance on hold until the November election. Mayor Chip Holloway asked that the item be placed on the agenda.

He proposed an ordinance stating that the city will not use eminent domain to take any property for private commercial, retail, business or industrial development or redevelopment.

The proposed ordinance allows the use of eminent domain to acquire property for things such as streets, bridges, parkways, sidewalks, schools or public sewer, water, or waste disposal or transfer facilities.

The proposal also allows property to be taken if, after the failure of city regulatory enforcement, it poses a public-health or safety as a result of physical deterioration, pollution or contamination. It would allow property taken for the purpose of remediating such conditions or minimizing danger to the public. Any property would then be sold back to the original owner or heirs at the fair-market value plus any legal, administrative and remediation costs.

“There have been four initiatives brought to the state,” said Holloway. He said one, proposed by the Protect Our Homes Coalition, is far-reaching.

The organization’s proposal, the Protect Our Homes Act, limits the use of eminent domain to public-use projects such as roads, parks, public facilities, land-use planning, property zoning and actions to preserve public health and safety.

“It would be redundant for the city to spend a lot of staff time at this point to come up with our own ordinance when very likely, whatever the state comes down the pike with, will supersede anything we do,” he said.

“I certainly support putting it on the back burner until after the election,” said Committee Chair Dan Clark.

The Daily Independent: http://www.ridgecrestca.com