Council Approves Measure Against Eminent Domain: The Arcadia CA Weekly, 1/18/07

Measure B will appear on the May 8 special election ballot

By Traci Kratzer

The Arcadia City Council unanimously approved a measure that would prohibit the city and redevelopment agency from using eminent domain to acquire private property.

The council’s decision to draft its own measure is a result of the continuing battle that has ensued between the city and business owner Manny Romero, who owns Rod’s Grill on the corner of Morlan Place and Huntington Drive.

Rod’s Grill is one of the four businesses located on 3.6 acres of desired land the city has been in negotiations with to purchase for the purpose of expanding the RUSNAK/Arcadia Mercedez Benz dealership on Huntington Drive. The other three businesses include the Arcadia Public Storage, the Church of Arcadia and a vacant triangular lot.

The redevelopment agency closed escrow with Arcadia Self Storage the end of last year and has reached a tentative agreement with the Church of Arcadia, said Don Penman, director of development services.

Last year, Romero submitted an initiative to the city that would prohibit the sale, storage and repair of new cars from being established on that block as well as establishing a two year moratorium on existing auto-related uses. The city council adopted a resolution on November 21 ordering a special election for that measure, called Measure A, on May 8.

If Measure A passes, city staff believes that it would likely prohibit the Rusnak expansion and affect the amount of revenue coming into the city.

If the city’s measure is passed by the voters on May 8, the measure, called Measure B, would first amend the Arcadia Municipal Code to (1) eliminate the use of eminent domain for purposes of taking private property for private use, (2) promote economic development, (3) protect existing land uses in the central business district Zone, and (4) promote community development.

In the likelihood that both measures receive enough votes to pass, then the initiative that receives the most votes would prevail.

“This is a historic step being taken by the city council,” said council member Bob Harbicht. “It shows that the council is listening to the will of the voters. Eminent domain has been a hot button issue in this city for a long time and by adopting this resolution we are saying, ‘do you want to eliminate eminent domain.’”

In November, the council rescinded all prior offers to purchase Rod’s Grill for the purpose of expanding the RUSNAK Mercedes Benz dealership with Mayor Roger Chandler stating that the council did not “want to continue to perpetuate the situation and waste staff’s time when it’s apparent that our offer is not going to be accepted.”

The last offer made by the city for the property was for $1,220,000 in March 2006, according to Penman. According to the city, citing public records, in April 2004 Romero acquired the property for $710,000.

The Arcadia CA Weekly: http://www.coremg.net