Yorba Linda rejects Town Center eminent domain: Orange County (CA) Register, 3/22/06

By Cindy Arora

The [Yorba Linda] City Council unanimously approved a resolution eliminating its power of eminent domain in the city’s Town Center area.

Council members, acting as the Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday, agreed not to use eminent domain for economic development, to generate tax revenue or to transfer private land to private developers.

Staff members were directed to return April 4 with a report on all the names and addresses that will be affected by the decision.

“I am supporting this primarily because we are in the process of assuring our community that this is important to us,” Councilman Ken Ryan said.

Some community members slammed the plan, saying the limits should extend citywide.

Yorba Linda Residents for Responsible Redevelopment has led opposition to the city’s plan for a high-density urban village in the Town Center that would have brought dozens of homes and shops. A petition drive forced council members to rescind new zoning rules for the area, and the group is championing a June 6 ballot measure that would give voters the final say over major projects.

City Attorney Sonia Carvalho answered concerns posed by residents, specifically why eminent domain could not be eliminated citywide.

Carvalho said the redevelopment agency, not the City Council, has had the power to use eminent domain in blighted areas. By adopting the resolution, the agency made it impossible to restore eminent domain authority in the Town Center unless it makes new blight findings. This is in line with Section 3399 of the state Health and Safety Code (California Redevelopment law.).

“By passing this resolution we cannot come back ever unless we find new blight. And the standard for that is very difficullt,” Carvalho said.

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