Newport Beach may restrict use of eminent domain: Orange County (CA) register, 3/22/06

Newly appointed City Council member today announces plans for a law barring the city from seizing private property for private development

By Jeff Overley

A newly appointed City Council member today announced plans for a law that would restrict the city’s use of eminent domain.

Keith D. Curry, who ascended to the council last month to fill a vacancy, said the proposed ordinance would bar Newport Beach from seizing private property for the purpose of allowing different private development.

Such actions were upheld as lawful last year in a much-publicized U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Curry said motivated his proposed ordinance.

Curry’s law would not restrict the use of eminent domain for public purposes, such as street widening, a step Newport has used in the past.

Newport has never pursued eminent domain for private benefit, Curry said. But the councilman added that the city’s upcoming takeover of redevelopment in East Santa Ana Heights and West Santa Ana Heights could lead down a path to eminent domain.

"We've never used eminent domain to take private property (for private benefit)," Curry said. "But I think it’s an opportunity for the City Council here to make clear that that’s not a practice we’ll engage in."

The proposed law will be taken up at the council’s Tuesday meeting.

Orange County Register: http://www.ocregister.com