Santa Rosa CA business group sues city to stop eminent domain

The Santa Rosa Area Business Association filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of blight findings in the newly created Gateways Redevelopment Project. The City’s use of eminent domain tops the list of concerns.

The Redevelopment Agency’s inclusion of eminent domain in the 1,102 acre project area was approved by the City Council in June 2006. The project area runs through the heart of the City and includes Coddingtown Mall, a shopping center that sold recently to Simon Property Group. Citizens were outraged when a letter from Coddingtown’s new owner was made public by the Santa Rosa Area Business Association (SRABA). The letter, addressed to the City Manager, Jeff Kolin, made it clear that Simon Property Group, the world’s largest shopping center owner, expects redevelopment funds to assist in construction of a new parking structure at Coddingtown. Conservative estimates of cost are $25-$30 million.

Citizens who are concerned about gentrification and the possibility that small businesses will be pushed out by large developers have hotly contested the adoption of the Gateways Redevelopment Project. The citizens advisory committee on the Gateways Redevelopment Project voted against it, and recommended that it not be adopted. After the City Council did adopt the ordinance, a referendum drive launched by SRABA failed to gain sufficient signatures to place Gateways on the ballot. At the bidding of its members, SRABA hired a law firm to file the suit.

According to SRABA’s vice-president, Rosa Koire, “Small business and property owners do not want the threat of eminent domain hanging over them for 12 years. Our concerns are real.” The Redevelopment Agency will have the power to take private property for private use for 12 years.

“Let the court decide.” Koire said, “Santa Rosans deserve protections from eminent domain and against windfalls for big developers. It’s un-American to transfer private property to private individuals. We are confident that we will prevail in fighting this unjust practice.”

Rosa Koire
Santa Rosa Area Business Association
Box 14842
Santa Rosa CA 95402
707-575-3036 or 707-576-9476