Escondido delays decision on sale of eminent-domain land: San Diego (CA) Union Tribune, 3/23/06

By Booyeon Lee

A[n Escondido] City Council decision to sell land, which it bought using the threat of eminent domain, to a developer for a profit has been continued to April 5.

The controversial decision, scheduled for yesterday's council meeting, was continued because Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler was absent.

In 1995, the city forced the Redding family to sell the 10-acre parcel for $345,000 after initiating eminent-domain proceedings.

The city had planned to use the land for a water reclamation project, which never materialized. The land, just east of the city limits off Mary Lane, was never used. Now the city wants to sell the land to a developer for $775,000.

Three weeks ago, the Redding family said it wanted to buy it back. The city offered to sell it for $596,000. The family offered $358,502, which includes property taxes but no earnings by the city. In response, the city ended the negotiations.

This week, the Redding family increased its offer to $450,000, but it is unclear whether the council would consider the new offer.

John Heard, 76, a retired construction company owner who lives next to the parcel, told the council yesterday that its decision to sell the property to a developer has “outraged the public.”

“Give the property back to the owner with interest,” he said.

The council voted 3-1 to delay a decision because the mayor was not present. On Monday, Pfeiler had rushed to Reno, where her father had emergency double bypass surgery yesterday after he suffered a heart attack while on vacation. The surgery was successful, said Councilman Ed Gallo, who presided at yesterday's meeting.

San Diego Union Tribune: www.signonsandiego.com