Yucaipa Council authorizes eminent domain : Yucaipa/Calimesa CA News Mirror, 1/11/07

By Michael Quigley

The Yucaipa City Council has authorized staff to proceed with eminent domain actions with respect to the properties around the I-10 interchange at Oak Glen Road and Live Oak Canyon Road.

During their meeting on Monday, all four council members present voted to authorize the actions. Council member Denise Hoyt was absent.

Before the reconstruction of the interchange can proceed, the city must demonstrate, among other things, that the necessary rights of way for this project have been secured.

Several different property owners, including the Palmer and Robinson families, were mailed offers of “just compensation” last October for the purchase or use of their properties. These offers were based on the recommendation of an independent appraiser.

Two of the property owners responded, each indicating that the city's offer fell well short of “just compensation.” In a letter to the city, Ed Palmer, president of the Palmer Corporation, stated the city's offer represented only a small fraction of the actual value of the property under consideration.

Another property owner, Renee Vicary, who owns Angel's Roadhouse, indicated that the city's offer undervalued her relevant property by 50 percent. Vicary also asked for other considerations in exchange for her consent to the city's proposal.

It appears that the city is willing to work with Vicary with respect to some of her requests, but the price of the right of way has not changed.

The Robinsons have not as yet responded in any formal or specific terms to the city's offer of compensation. Another property owner, Boah, Inc., has not responded either.

The action by the city council on Monday night sets into motion the process of forcing these property owners to accept the current offers. This does not mean, however, that negotiations with respect to the current offers are over.

In exercising eminent domain, the city council had to determine that the interests of and benefits to the public outweighed the interests of the property owners. The four members of the council present determined that this is the case with respect to the expansion of the interchange.

“We need this interchange,” said Mayor Dick Riddell. “I've been saying for some time that it should be the city's number one priority.”

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